The Terling thesis: an agenda for the reconsideration of the work of Wrightson and Levine (review essay)

In 1979, Keith Wrightson and David Levine published Poverty and Piety in an English Village: Terling 1525-1700, a study of social change in Essex

[referred to below as PPEV].[1] Reissuing the text in 1995, its publisher described it as "a classic study of a single community" which had produced "a major influence on the interpretation of the social dynamics of the period." Even its critics acknowledge the importance of what has come to be known as the "Terling thesis". As the title indicates, the study focused on "the history of a single village and its people."[2] While PPEV provides a broad discussion of demographic and social issues, in some respects the core of the Terling thesis relates to an intensive crackdown on antisocial behaviour and threats to the moral order pursued between 1608 and 1620, and especially after 1617. Hence this discussion, in effect an extended review essay, concentrates on the authors' analysis of the early seventeenth century.

The essay, written from the point of view of a student of Essex local history, is offered in parallel with a broader presentation, "Terling Images: towards a reconsideration of the 'Terling thesis'" ( It suggests to a new generation of scholars that the work of Wrightson and Levine may benefit from a re-evaluation that separates the terms "village" and "parish". Terling, it is argued, was both a parish – relatively large in area and probably diffuse in identity – and a village, where people lived in close proximity. Such a reconsideration involves an exploration of the size, lay-out and population of the village area, and its relationship to the parish as a whole. Re-examination of the extent and the various orientations of the wider parish, a phrase used to indicate areas beyond the village, may also change perceptions of the relationship between Terling and the "social area" of mid-Essex which the authors' research most effectively recreated. The proposed re-evaluation also considers the possibility that gentry exercised greater influence within the community than may appear from available records, a hypothesis that takes account of the presence of a substantial mansion house on the edge of the village. The existence of a Mildmay family residence so close to the village community has not been previously acknowledged, thanks to difficulty in deciphering a contemporary map, the demolition of the house around 1773 and the clearing of the southern end of the village street around 1850. It is argued that the house, and its owners, were particularly important in relation to that important phase of social activity and law enforcement from 1608 to 1620. Finally, some possible comparative approaches are indicated, intended to explore in particular whether the reported attitude to social control issues in Terling was shared within nearby communities.

The Terling thesis Reviewing the debate on PPEV in 1995, Wrightson highlighted two main elements, one demographic and focused upon kinship structures, the other concerned with social control. At the core of the research by Wrightson and Levine was a large-scale project of family reconstruction. This enabled the authors to argue convincingly against the traditional – and essentially pejorative – view of village communities as inbred networks characterised by multiple kinship relations. In 1671, two-thirds of the population had no family connections within Terling at all, while only one quarter had some form of relationship with another household.[3] Wrightson seemed on strong ground when he subsequently insisted that the Terling research had disproved "the traditional notion of the early modern English village as a cluster of densely related households in which social relations were dominated by extended family ties".[4]

One important counterpart to these findings was the authors' exploration of Terling's "social area", measuring distances within which local people experienced various categories of relationship – commercial, legal and personal.[5] The results were striking: while only three adjoining parishes were registered in all eight of the forms of economic and social interaction classified by Wrightson and Levine, four more ticked seven of the boxes, two of them contiguous and the others representing a nearby market centre.[6] It will be argued that these findings acquire a greater significance when Terling is disaggregated into village and wider parish. The authors' assertion that "Terling had its own integrity as a social unit"[7] is almost certainly valid in regard to ecclesiastical affairs – at least until the Civil War, when a Dissenting congregation permanently broke away – and also in relation to local administration, covering matters such as highway maintenance and poor relief, as well as the responsibility of reporting to local and county courts. However, in economic and personal relationships, it may be preferable to think of a 'Terling world', where business dealings, friendships and sexual activity were conducted within a walking-distance radius of between five and nine miles. This theme is further discussed in the reconsideration of the wider parish.

The other main element of the authors' work was described by Wrightson as "the interaction of demographic, economic, social and cultural change which runs throughout our study". Here, a number of fertile themes might be highlighted,[8] but I emphasise two core elements. The first is that Terling experienced a growth in population from about 330 in 1525 to approximately 580 by 1671.[9] Remarkably, most of this increase happened before 1625: for the rest of the seventeenth century, "a rough balance existed between the forces of life and those of death" (i.e. in some years, there were more baptisms than burials, but in others the relationship was reversed).[10]  The second relates to an apparently increased emphasis upon social control, particularly in the first two decades of the seventeenth century, "on an altogether different scale" from that recorded in Tudor times, a drive that amounted to "a redrawing of the boundaries of permitted behaviour", and involved campaigns conducted through "the previously little-used extra-parochial courts of Church and State". The unwary reader might conclude that such activity was a by-product of the rising population, but Wrightson and Levine dismissed this simplistic connection. "Both the numbers of cases and the numbers of persons prosecuted rose much faster than did the population of the village. Something was happening in Terling." Specifically, the authors identified the "rise to power" between 1607 and 1620 of a group of local notables, who became "the ruling group of the village".  Informally led by Augustine Norrell, in 1620 they had the "audacity" to lecture the Essex justices on the duties of the magistrate.[11] The present study returns to this key period below, to suggest the possibility of an alternative interpretation, one that postulates differing forms of gentry control.

Readers who night surmise, from the alliterative pairing of poverty with piety in the book's title, that Puritanism was the "something" that was going on in Terling would also be in for a surprise.  In her 1991 study of the royal manor of Havering from 1500 to 1620, Marjorie K. McIntosh looked briefly at the possible role of Puritanism in patterns of law enforcement, concluding that intermittent crack-downs on turbulent behaviour probably reflected a determination to maintain good order at times of potential social instability: notably, there was "scant interest in social control" during the decade after 1595, when the churchwardens held "explicitly Calvinist views".[12] In fact, the evidence considered by McIntosh was only obliquely comparable to the Terling situation, not least because it was based exclusively upon prosecutions in the church courts, which dealt exclusively with moral offences such as drunkenness and extra-marital sex. Havering had its own criminal courts, but the records have long since disappeared, making it impossible to assess levels of concern about such destabilising influences as unlicensed or badly managed alehouses. More important was the fact that Havering officials were largely concerned with the market town of Romford, a major supply centre for London and a focus for in-migration from surrounding areas. Criminality and anarchic dislocation were much more serious threats to public order than would usually have been experienced in the rural community of Terling. Although McIntosh cited PPEV, she posed a wholly reasonable question about the influence of religious radicalism, and did not explicitly engage with the Terling thesis. Nonetheless, Wrightson reacted with gruff disapproval. "Prof. McIntosh is mistaken in implying that the Terling study attributes intensified social regulation entirely to Puritanism."[13] Rather, Wrightson insisted that the authors had discerned two causal threads, one based on "religious motivation for tightening social discipline in village society", the other "a more limited concern with the containment of poverty". He regarded the analysis offered in PPEV as one of "convergence and overlap, the one factor subtly reinforcing the other". Wrightson is, of course, fully entitled to expound the Terling thesis in a nuanced manner. However, given that PPEV identified "a whole generation of parish notables of striking personal piety", office-holders who "formed a quite distinct group within village society" throughout the sixteen-twenties and -thirties,[14] it has to be said that, in regard to Puritanism, the Terling thesis does seem to operate as something of a moving target. Hence this essay concentrates more on arguments surrounding social control.

Sources It was "the exceptional quality of its parish register" that led Wrightson and Levine to focus upon Terling, using it for a sample study of family reconstruction and an examination of the incidence of illegitimacy.[15]  By contrast, from the point of view of a local historian interested in Essex, there are two problems about Terling as a subject for study, although the parish is not without some compensating advantages. The complications are the absence of a Victoria County History volume covering its administrative division, the half-hundred of Witham, and the influence, since its erection in 1772-3, of one of the county's largest mansions, Terling Place, which imposed changes on the lay-out of the village that have tended to obscure aspects of the community in the seventeenth century. However, one major asset is the survival of an early map of part of the parish, dating from 1597, which has become easier to interpret thanks to research since the nineteen-seventies. There is also a local history which contains a valuable, if not always well-digested, compilation of information, which can be supplemented by data and records, mainly from more recent times, assembled by an active local history group. Perhaps most useful of all, and not confined to Terling, is Essex Archives Online (EAO), the freely available Internet calendar of documents in the Essex Record Office at Chelmsford ( Some brief comment is needed on each of these.

The Victoria County History (VCH) project for Essex has moved slowly since the first district volume, on Ongar Hundred, was published in 1956, and no study of the central part of the county has yet appeared. The VCH eschews grand theories like the Terling thesis, concentrating instead upon packaging the history of each parish, organising information under set headings, including such topics as local government, education and charities.[16] A VCH listing of parish charities would also be useful in the assessment of the use of poor relief as a form of control, particularly in relation to Henry Smith's charity, which Wrightson and Levine introduce in the context of the campaign "against forms of behaviour previously tolerated in the village" around 1620.  Henry Smith's charity "was set up in 1626 for the relief in 'Clothing, Bread, Flesh or Fish' of the able-bodied poor", who were required to meet demanding standards of behaviour – and also required to wear badges attesting to their pauper status, a humiliation not generally applied to the destitute until much later in the seventeenth century. Only the phrasing that Henry Smith's charity was "administered in Terling by the parish officers" may hint that this was not the result of a local initiative.[17] In fact, Henry Smith was a London philanthropist (possibly atoning for his life as a money-lender), who planned a massive charity that eventually benefited over two hundred parishes across England: some of the details were spelled out, not in the original text of 1977, but in the 1995 reissue. It seems fair enough to claim that "Terling's involvement in this scheme is indicative of the connectedness of the parish's leaders to the Puritan networks of late Jacobean and Caroline England", an argument made the more plausible by the fact that notoriously radical Braintree was another Essex community to benefit. However, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry on Henry Smith may tend to modify this assumption. Although he planned the charity in his last years, it is not clear when it became fully operational: it now appears that Smith died in 1628, not 1626, but the full scheme was not enrolled in Chancery until 1641.[18] In any case, it is likely that Terling was chosen through the influence of one of its Puritan vicars, either Thomas Weld, who arrived in 1624, or his successor, John Stalham. Thus the link to the reformist group who are said to have asserted new norms of behaviour between 1617 and 1620 may not have been direct. A VCH volume could have made clear the status of Henry Smith's charity in Terling.[19]

Perhaps the most important function of the VCH is its identification of the principal  landowners in each community, without which historians may suspect the control of the gentry but – if they cannot even be named – it is impossible to prove. Given that it is reasonable to examine the role of the gentry in the affairs of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Terling, it is unfortunate no attempt has been to compile a comprehensive list of those who owned property in the parish since Philip Morant's History of Essex in 1768. Morant made a heroic effort to sort out the parchments, but there were some errors in his interpretations, and many gaps. For instance, at Terling, he telescoped generations, assuming that the Robert Mildmay who presented to the vicarage (i.e. appointed the vicar) in 1632 was the same Robert Mildmay who presented in 1687, "so that he must have arrived to a great age". Similarly, Morant carefully chronicled the powerful Rochester (pronounced 'Rowchester') family down to the failure of their male line in 1618, but he said little about the subsequent fate of their main property in the parish, Great Loyes.[20] The absence of reliable information about the ownership of the principal farms and mansions in the parish makes it difficult to evaluate the role of the various gentlemen who passed through Terling in the seventeenth century: for instance, the Royalist poet Francis Quarles lived at Ridley Hall from about 1638 until his death in 1644, but he seems merely to have rented a property that was apparently then attached to New Hall, Boreham, a palatial residence in an adjoining parish.[21]

For 250 years, the village has stood in the shadow of a stately home, Terling Place, built by the Strutt family in 1772-3. The family acquired a peerage in the early nineteenth century, and – perhaps more important for the history of Terling – made large-scale property purchases which made them the dominant landlords across the parish and – indeed – beyond. When overseas competition threw Essex farming into crisis in the eighteen-seventies, Terling Place became the focus of one of Britain's earliest agribusinesses, Lord Rayleigh's Dairies (now Lord Rayleigh's Farms), a successful project which helps explain why the mansion is one of very few in the county still occupied by the family who built it. A century earlier, the founder of the dynasty, John Strutt, had been able to exercise extensive control over the community, for instance in 1766 remodelling the seating in the church in order to provide his own family with an imposing pew. One admirer lamented the contrast with his own parish "where every man is unfortunately his own master, and no one can be found to regulate the actions of the ignorant and unthinking".[22] However, this form of monopolistic landlord power almost certainly did not operate in the early-seventeenth century, when the parish was divided among several prominent families, and here – as outlined above – it is to be regretted that we do not have a clear picture of landownership. A more practical complication of the construction of Terling Place was that its owners cleared the southern section of the original village, first around the time when the mansion was erected – roads were closed or diverted in 1771 – while further substantial demolitions accompanied "improvements" around 1850. One incidental effect of the latter was to open up the west side of the previously enclosed village green. Another was the overall reshaping of the village as tenants from the flattened southern section were relocated to new housing further to the north. To re-imagine the village of Terling as it was around 1600, it is necessary to remove the layers of change that have ensued over the past two and a half centuries.

Fortunately – and here we turn to the compensatory advantages for the local historian in studying Terling – the village can be reconstructed from a map made in 1597, very early in the history of local cartography for Essex. The map was the work of John Walker the elder, a member of a talented local family, who styled himself "architector" and was probably also a builder. His "Trew Plat" of Chelmsford in 1591, and the accompanying map of its suburb, Moulsham, make it possible to reconstruct the county town in some detail. Walker's surveying was reasonably accurate by modern standards, but the great feature of his work was the inclusion of thumbnail sketches of buildings: the survey of Ingatestone, jointly undertaken with his son John Walker the younger in 1601, makes it possible to identify the many houses that are still standing.  The Terling map is not without its challenges. Although it included the village, its focus was on the principal manor, which later became known as Terling Place, and this only covered about forty percent of the parish. It was also less well preserved than the classic Walker maps, having probably been hung on a wall, where sunlight had caused it to fade. It had also been prodded by the greasy fingers of enquirers who had taken a particular interest in the village, obscuring and even puncturing some of the detail. This "true Survey and platt" has remained in the hands of its private owners, and was principally known to scholars through a black-and-white photograph taken in 1948. Coupled with the fading of the colours, its pictorial limitations made it difficult to decipher: Wrightson and Levine, for instance, simply referred to it as showing "a crazy quilt of fields".[23] In 1984, two distinguished archivists from the Essex Record Office, K.C. Newton and A.C. Edwards, published a study of the Walker maps, in which they included a colour photograph of the village area, and also provided an analysis of building types in the wider parish.[24] As explained later in this essay, the 1597 map can be used to attempt an estimate of the relative populations of the village and the wider parish. It can also be used as the basis of a reconstruction, at least in the schematic outline provided below, of the shape of the village, demonstrating in particular the proximity of Terling's inn to the mansion house that dominated the main street – although both have largely vanished from subsequent histories.

Terling also has a parish history, privately produced by a local resident, C.A. Barton, in 1953.[25]   Although Barton misunderstood some issues, the book is best described as solid, and packed with semi-documentary material.  He had the advantage that the Essex Record Office, in nearby Chelmsford, was fully operational and able to supply information about wills and court cases, allowing him to supply transcriptions of material, some of which is not identifiable through EAO.[26] Barton also transcribed the 1842/4 tithe commutation agreement and the report of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments.[27] Particularly tantalising are his "selected extracts" from Terling's parish register – the resource that attracted Wrightson and Levine to the parish – the more as he gave no hint of the basis of selection that he employed.[28] The Terling parish register is among those available through the EAO subscription series. A full family reconstruction of the kind carried out by Wrightson and Levine might not be necessary, but a rapid survey could perhaps yield more information about occupations of parishioners and their locations within the parish. Barton is the source of much miscellaneous information cited in this essay: clearly, one priority for a reconsideration of the Terling thesis would be the verification of his evidence. Happily, the advent of the Internet also means that the student of Terling is not dependent upon Barton for county records. EAO calendars court documents in the Essex Record Office, mainly from petty and quarter sessions, along with some coverage of more serious crimes that came before the assizes.[29] Other sources also provide extensive online access to detailed local maps.[30]

Two general points should be made in closing this discussion of sources. The first is that the research for PPEV was conducted almost half a century ago. In their preface, the authors describe their research methods as "laborious": technological support did not extend much beyond microfilm and photocopies. It is not clear whether David Levine's massive family reconstitution project drew upon computer support, but the power of such machines in the nineteen-seventies was unimpressive. Keith Wrightson's extensive archival research almost certainly relied to a considerable extent upon time-consuming pencil-and-paper transcription. The major histories now available of the nearby towns of Braintree, Chelmsford, Maldon and Witham had not then appeared.[31] An important potential resource, the 1597 map, was very difficult to use. Poverty and Piety in an English Village was, and remains, an impressive book, which broadly contributed to the demographic, religious and social history of Tudor and Stuart England. As with any historical study, it was possible to argue for different interpretations of the available evidence, but there can be no doubt that PPEV was a major achievement, and it is only right that the call made here to re-examine its findings should recognise its importance.

Second, the specific scope of this essay should be stressed. It contends that aspects of the Terling thesis should be re-examined in the light of a distinction between village and wider parish, particularly in relation to the community's place in the wider social area, its relationship with nearby parishes and towns. It argues that a closer focus is required on the structure of the village, to distinguish between attempts to suppress illicit alehouses and the ongoing campaign to regulate its hospitality business, an inn called the Angel. In particular, the role of the mansion house at the southern end of the village street (not mentioned by Wrightson and Levine) needs investigation. In this connection, an alternative hypothesis is offered to explain the crackdown on anti-social behaviour between 1617 and 1620 which forms a major element in the Terling thesis. The possibility, assumed in PPEV, that it resulted from the capture of the parish by a reformist group of Puritan-leaning farmers is acknowledged, but it is suggested that the evidence may also be interpreted to point to the controlling influence of the chief landowner, Sir Thomas Mildmay (Thomas III), a wealthy but renegade member of the local elite.

Some definitions The terms parish, village, town and hamlet are in such familiar use by local historians – and by any scholar who writes about the English countryside – that it may be all too easy to feel that we know precisely what they mean. A conflation of the first two terms, parish and village, runs through the text of PPEV. To cite one of many examples, this may be seen in the ambivalent terminology used in the discussion of the importance of farming from its early pages: "Terling was then an entirely agricultural village. ...a parish well able to feed itself". At other points, the telescoping of the two concepts may risk creating an impression that the parishioners all lived cheek-by-jowl.  The authors set out "to delineate the broad shape of village society" using taxation assessments that "include representatives of most of the village families":  in reality, the major contributors were usually farmers, some of whom lived on the fringes of the parish, at some distance from the village.[32] The definitions offered are basic, although some potential complications are outlined in endnotes.

The term parish is the most straightforward to define: a parish was a territorial unit, originally defined for ecclesiastical purposes. Its fields and woodlands yielded tithes to the local parish church, which its inhabitants were required to attend. In Tudor times, it also gradually became an administrative unit. In a series of laws passed between 1552 and 1601, the inhabitants of each parish were required to accept responsibility for the control and support of their own poor. In 1555, a Highways Act imposed a similar duty to maintain local roads.[33] These welfare and local government functions required parishioners to organise themselves, to levy and collect rates and to share out the offices that controlled their expenditure.  Given the relatively small number of residents in each parish capable of discharging such responsibilities, the growth in administrative functions overlapped with the existing ecclesiastical structure, often burdening churchwardens with secular tasks. Business was discharged through informal local legislatures, which usually met in the incumbent's robing room of the parish church, and by the seventeenth century were called by the derived term "vestries".[34] Local elites – usually farmers and the more prosperous craftsmen – tended to have shared interests in maintaining local roads and keeping down the cost of poor relief. Consequently, the term "parish" came to be used occasionally to refer to the consensus of opinions held by its more influential inhabitants: thus a Terling labourer, prosecuted in a church court for immorality in 1617, pleaded that he and his partner had wished to legalise their union but "the parishe would not suffer them to marry". Wrightson and Levine regard this usage as "of some significance".[35]

If the term parish had a precise geographical and legal meaning, its counterpart, village, was heavily imbued with connotations but distinctly short on definition. Its vagueness was hardly clarified by the fact that it was cognate to the term "vill", which seventeenth century English evolved from the Latin "villa", to refer to medieval manorial communities, most of which re-emerged around 1200 as – parishes.[36] "A collection of dwelling-houses and other buildings, larger than a hamlet and smaller than a town", says the Oxford English Dictionary, in a question-begging definition. The term is used here to indicate that the "collection of dwelling-houses and other buildings" should be reasonably contiguous, and probably sufficiently populous to support such commercial activities as butchery, blacksmithing and the selling of ale. Unfortunately, while such activities were carried on within the parish of Terling, it is not easy to determine exactly whereabouts – although it is probable that many were indeed clustered in the village area. It should be noted that many Essex parishes contained no identifiable village at all: Terling was a relatively uncommon example of a parish with a single dominant settlement that may be assumed to have functioned as a 'capital'.[37] The classic village is generally if loosely thought of as containing a parish church, an inn and a green open-space for communal activities. As it happened, Terling had all three, although it was not uncommon in Essex for the church to be situated elsewhere in the parish, and by no means every village was arranged around a public space. However, this does not mean that the village of Terling dominated the parish of Terling, still less that the entire parochial community was crammed into its restricted area.

As the Oxford English Dictionary pointed out, a town was larger than a village, "an assemblage of buildings, public and private, larger than a village, and having more complete and independent local government". In fact, seventeenth-century Essex towns were by no means all effectively self-governing. Maldon was a borough. The local affairs of Braintree (but not its twin town Bocking) were administered by a self-perpetuating elite called the Four and Twenty, although in practice it was little more than a parish council, subject to the control of the county magistrates.[38] Chelmsford managed with essentially parochial institutions until 1888, making it one of the last county towns in England to achieve borough status. Seventeenth-century examples of the word "town[e]" were complicated by its use to describe what we would now call a township or, in other words, a parish.[39]

 The key distinction lay in economic function, and in particular the possession of a weekly market.[40] Janet Gyford writes, "Witham was always a town and not a village", because people from the surrounding villages used it as a focus for business activities. However, she also recognises that "except for its market and its cloth industry", seventeenth-century Witham "had the same activities as the villages, but on a grander scale, and to a greater degree of specialisation".[41] Main-road locations also set the towns apart from the villages: Defoe in 1722 commented that Brentwood and Chelmsford "have very little to be said of them, but that they are large thorough-fare towns, full of good inns, and chiefly maintained by the excessive multitude of carriers and passengers, which are constantly passing this way to London, with droves of cattle, provisions, and manufactures".[42] As argued below, Terling seems to have had a single establishment large enough to be regarded as a village inn; the town of Witham in 1673 had five, operating on a scale that made their proprietors among the largest contributors to the Hearth Tax of that year.[43] However, it was their market functions that essentially distinguished the towns from the villages. In the seventeenth century, there was no huge disparity in population. Wrightson and Levine estimate that the population of Terling was around 580 by 1671, and that it had probably been stable for half a century.[44] This essay argues that no more than half the parishioners lived in the village area, perhaps 250 to 300 people. Chelmsford probably contained around 1,700 people at that time;[45] Maldon 1,000.[46] Witham rose from perhaps 700 in 1548 (when it was called a "great and a populus town") to as many as 1,200 by the sixteen-seventies.[47] However, like Terling, Witham was a sizeable parish, covering about six square miles, and some allowance – perhaps as many as 300 people – should be made for those who lived outside the urban area.  Witham was also curiously structured, in effect split into two segments, almost a mile apart and with poor communication between them. In 913, Edward the Elder established a burh, a fortified settlement, at Witham, which is generally assumed to be the original town, at Chipping Hill, just off the main Essex highway. Three centuries later, around 1212, the Knights Templar, who owned one of the Witham manors, laid out a main-road town. This became known as Newland Street, and took over the market. Reconstructions of seventeenth-century Witham suggest that around one quarter of the 'urban' population lived at Chipping Hill, which seems to have functioned economically as a village, home to a blacksmith, the local vicar, and various cottagers and labourers – in short, not unlike nearby Terling.[48] But Janet Gyford is surely correct in her reflection that, overall, Witham had urban rather than village status, since it was used by people from the surrounding villages as a focus for their commercial activities – or, as Defoe put it, "a pleasant well situated market-town".[49]

To describe a hamlet is "an agglomeration of houses smaller than a village" is to state the obvious, but – once again – without providing an all-embracing definition.[50] Unfortunately, given the scarcity of maps and records for the seventeenth century, it is probably the best we can hope for. In the parish of Terling, two (or three) collections of buildings qualify for the term. About 500 yards north of the village at Owls Hill, five buildings survive from before 1700, while the 1597 map seems to indicate that there were other habitations that have not survived. In the early seventeenth century, there might have been forty to fifty people living here. Although obviously distinct from the core area, Owls Hill was perhaps too close to the village to have supported many of its own services, and it was incorporated into the remodelled Terling after 1850.  Across the Ter, about three-quarters of a mile west of the village, two scatterings of buildings lined small areas of common land, which by the nineteenth century had become known as Flacks Green and Gambles Green. It is possible that in earlier times they were jointly known as the Tyes, a tye being a dialect term for a small, usually roughly triangular piece of open ground. Although both greens were less than an acre in area, their peripheries were sufficiently extended to accommodate non-contiguous cottages, some of which survive. The 1851 census listed just over 100 people around Flacks Green and Gambles Green. Given that the parish population (900) was 1.55 times larger than Wrightson and Levine estimate of 580 for 1620, this might point to 70 people living there in the seventeenth century. Unfortunately, it seems impossible to establish to what degree they coexisted as a community, or whether they supported their own craft or retail operations.[51] However, as discussed below, the impenetrability of the evidence does not entitle us to assume that all craft or business activities associated with Terling took place in the village. One sixteenth-century Terling alehouse, that of John Norrell, can be reasonably identified with a tenement near Flacks Green,[52] and the apparent duplication of tradesmen such as butchers, blacksmiths and wheelwrights may suggest that some operated in the hamlets.[53]

Parish and village "Terling is a pleasant village on the banks of the small river Ter", remarked White's Directory of Essex in 1848, adding that "[t]he parish contains many scattered houses". It is a distinction that is not always apparent from Wrightson and Levine, who sometimes imply that all Terling people lived in the village: "The villagers lived and worked in close proximity to one another. ... The village was riddled with petty conflicts."[54] In reality, the parish and the village were far from identical. Nineteenth century estimates of the area of the parish vary from 3056 acres to 3228 acres – the latter amounting to almost exactly five square miles.[55] While Terling parish may look like a reasonably coherent unit on the map, it perhaps seemed less so to its inhabitants who were required to conduct an annual "perambulation" to check boundary markers, an exercise that took two whole days. A detailed account of 1770 listed 148 points where the parish boundary changed direction, including several illogical projections, such as the narrow 'fingers' of fields extending north near the Fairstead hamlet of Fuller Street. In addition, there were four detached portions, transferred to Fairstead in the eighteen-eighties, although only one of these seems to have been inhabited by the nineteenth century.[56] On the ground, the parish of Terling would have seemed far from being a geographically-determined natural unit. Some farms were located almost two miles from the village, and were likely to have had more convenient economic ties with nearby communities, such as Boreham, Hatfield Peverel and – in particular – Witham. The front windows of Terling Hall to the south looked out into Hatfield Peverel. One property, Noakes, straddled the western section of the parish boundary: the annual perambulation solemnly marched through the farmhouse, climbing out of the kitchen window. Similarly, although William Rochester, who died in 1587, was based at Great Loyes at the northern end of the parish, he owned land in Hatfield Peverel, to the south, and at Ulting, six miles down the Blackwater valley, along with business interests in Maldon.[57] In further discussion below of the concept of a social area, it will be suggested that the Wrightson and Levine statement that "Terling had its own integrity as a social unit" needs to be modified to take account of some degree of fluidity of contacts around the margins of the parish. 

The parish of Terling covered about five square miles. There were two concentrations of population, one in the village and the other in the hamlets, later called Flacks Green and Gambles Green, to the west of the river Ter. Several of the larger farms were located at some distance from the village. The parish boundaries were irregular, and there were four small detached portions. 

The village and the wider parish: a comparative population estimate  Thanks to the publication, by K.C. Newton and A.C. Edwards in 1984, of a colour photograph of the village area on the 1597 Walker map, it is possible to use Walker's thumbnail sketches of buildings to attempt an estimate of the distribution of the population across the parish of Terling. Within the village area, it is possible to discern about forty tenements and cottages, including one substantial mansion, which is discussed later. Damage to the map means that it is not always easy to distinguish between inhabited dwellings on the one hand, and barns and outhouses on the other, although some clues are provided by indications of chimneys. It is also possible that some buildings represent terraced cottages, perhaps raising the number of occupied units to around fifty. The application of the Laslett multiplier which Wrightson and Levine use to calculate the overall parish population c. 1620 to 580 – 4.75 persons to each household – suggests a population range from 190 to 238 for the village area. Given the presence of a mansion, which needed resident servants to function, it would be reasonable to round the higher figure up to 250.

Newton and Edwards also provided an analysis of building types beyond the village, in which they identified a further forty inhabited dwellings. However, because the map was manorial, it only covered about 1200 acres, or forty percent of the parish.[58] Walker's survey mainly covered the north of the parish, which included the scattered settlement at Owls Hill and the hamlets later known as Flacks Green and Gambles Green. Thus it might seem best to err on the side of the caution, and assume that the remaining 1800 acres contained a further forty cottages, tenements and farmhouses, giving the wider parish a total of eighty dwellings. The Laslett multiplier gives a wider-parish figure of 380 people, or a total population of 630. It would only be necessary to 'lose' ten households from the calculation to fall into line with the Wrightson and Levine estimate of 580 – and, it should be noted, the 'count' for properties in the village is a generous one. Either way, the village of Terling seems to have accounted for less than half the parish population, and its share may have been as little as one-third.

There are obvious pitfalls in such rough-and-ready calculations. First, the estimates relate to 1597, a quarter of a century before Wrightson and Levine calculate that Terling's population reached its plateau. In 1620, local jurors reported that cottages had been erected in the parish without the regulation four acres of land that the law prescribed to ensure their inhabitants a chance of self-sufficient subsistence – usually, it would seem, without effect. In 1627, five Terling residents, four men and a widow, were accused of similar offences. Over the following three years, they were summoned to appear in court, but unfortunately none of them bothered to comply. Hence there is no way of knowing how many housing units had been erected, or whereabouts in the parish. (One alleged offender, John Aldridge, was the landlord of a village inn, but his premises stood in a crowded village street where there would have been little room for new construction, and he probably also held farmland elsewhere in the parish.)[59] As noted, overcrowding may have been characteristic of village life and some dwellings perhaps housed more than one family. The only vaguely indicative evidence comes from the Royal Commission for Historical Monuments which reported, in 1921, that thirteen buildings across the parish constructed before 1700 had subsequently been divided into multi-occupancy: six tenements in the village area had become twelve cottages; seven in the wider parish had been converted into seventeen housing units. For what it is worth, this finding does not point to any disproportionate pressure of numbers in the village. In any case, a finding from 1921 cannot date the process of sub-division. Some farmhouses and other relatively comfortable tenements, such as the homes of seventeenth-century worthies Augustine Norrell and the Tabor family, had been split, but this had probably happened in much more recent times. A.F.J. Brown, noted social historian of Essex, noted that for every three farmers recorded in the Terling burials register during the first decade of the eighteenth century, there were two artisans.[60] While we cannot assume that all artisans operated in the village, nor that all villagers were skilled craftsmen, the ratio is consistent with the rough calculations attempted above. Some speculative arithmetic back-projected from the first British census, in 1801, also tends to confirm the estimated breakdown between village and wider parish populations, but, of course, conclusions drawn from two centuries later can only be tentative.[61]

Recognition of a distinction between the village and the wider parish has two major implications. First, the kind of crime that happens where people dwell in close proximity is likely to be different from offences in remoter areas: interpersonal clashes can indeed be petty and result in unplanned explosions of conflict within the relatively confined space of a village, but those who live in isolated homesteads are more at risk of premeditated and organised attacks.[62] The dominant gentry family in Terling until 1618, the Rochesters (pronounced, it seems, Rowchester) were inclined to resort to strong-arm methods to deal with rent arrears or to resolve disputed property claims. One of Terling's most violent episodes, a dispute within the family, happened in 1571 on property at Great Loyes, about half a mile north of the village, when three of the Rochesters led a gang of labourers in an attack on a husbandman who owed them money. In 1595, a prolonged episode of disorder arose out of a dispute between two members of the clan, probably cousins. Richard Rochester seized twenty sheep and lambs from William Burton for unpaid rent, and apparently evicted him. William Rochester teamed up with Burton, his wife and two other farmers who, armed with pitchforks, reoccupied the farm and liberated the animals. Richard Rochester similarly retaliated in kind. One interesting point about this outbreak of minor anarchy is that the disputed tenement, Bettes, was very close to the village. However, villagers do not seem to have been involved: William Rochester recruited his muscle-men from Great Leighs, perhaps on the assumption that they were less likely to be recognised. The dispute proceeded through various levels of the local courts, but F.G. Emmison concluded that the assize judges were probably "baffled" by the counter-claims.[63] There was a later case in 1651 when John Cornwall, husbandman, evicted Ralph Dowset, the recognised tenant of the manor of "Tarling Hall" from a tenement and one-acre smallholding.[64] The number of cases may seem too small for generalisation, but it may be that violent disputes over property were more likely to have taken place in the wider parish – especially if they involved disputes over livestock or farm produce – than in the village, where the victim of an attack might summon help from neighbours. Hence we cannot assume that every local upheaval in the parish of Terling threatened "the precarious harmony of village life" (emphasis added).[65]

Once a distinction between the village and the wider parish has been established, it becomes useful to establish to what extent Terling functioned as a single unit, and how far its five square miles may have been divided into perceived sub-districts.[66] Prior to the secession of a substantial number of Dissenters after the Civil War period, the parish functioned effectively as an ecclesiastical unit. In 1630, the parish constable, Matthew Warren, reported that everybody attended church, while a rare backslider that year ingeniously pleaded that "he could not get into the church by reason of the crowde of people". (However, pressure of numbers may have been a temporary problem, explained by an incursion of strict believers from Witham, several of whom were prosecuted in 1631-2 for attending worship in Terling instead of at their own parish church. They were drawn by the preaching of the controversial Puritan vicar Thomas Weld, who soon afterwards was forced to flee Laud's anger and seek refuge in New England.)[67] However, bringing a disparate collection of people together in church did not necessarily build a sense of community: between 1600 and 1614, there were three instances of confrontation, one of them ending in bloodshed.[68]

The parish also operated with outline efficiency as an administrative unit, although this probably directly affected a much smaller number of local worthies who were compelled to accept various unpaid responsibilities, as churchwardens, overseers of the poor and jurors reporting to the local courts. Wrightson and Levine divided the population of Terling into four social categories. Gentry rarely held local offices,[69] which tended to devolve upon men from Category II – farmers and prosperous craftsmen.[70] Distinguishing between the village and the wider parish may help to explain the distribution of these responsibilities. Wrightson and Levine cite the example of Robert Tabor, who served as churchwarden seven times between 1600 and his death in 1614. The Royal Commission on Historical Monuments noted that a brick chimney on a house facing the village green bore an inscription with the letters RT and the date 1613.[71] If, as seems likely, this was the home of Robert Tabor, it is hardly surprising that he was an obvious choice to undertake the housekeeping duties of a churchwarden, since the parish church stood only yards away.

By contrast, it seems that jurors – the Terling men who reported to the local courts – were usually drawn from the farming community. The majority of the 21 "activists" identified by Wrightson and Levine in the decade after 1607 as campaigners for social order were large-scale farmers or substantial yeomen.[72] We might ask: why would farmers be concerned with minor disorder, much of which occurred in the village? (For instance, Robert Hare, one of the notables singled out in PPEV, belonged to a family that farmed at Scarletts, almost two miles away.) Of course, they had a financial stake in the upholding of morality: extra-marital sex produced children who had to be supported by handouts from ratepayers, among whom farmers tended to be major contributors. Misbehaviour in the village could also have wider implications. In 1590, complaint was made that John Hobson, Terling's schoolmaster, "usethe comenly to spende great part of his tyme from his charge" playing "unlawfull games" such as dice at alehouses, "espetiallye at one Lillies of Tearlinge". Local schools usually operated in the parish church, so this was an offence committed in the village, but by deserting his charges, Hobson risked unleashing delinquent behaviour by unsupervised youngsters anywhere in the neighbourhood.[73] Farmers also needed to be confident that employees sent on errands to the village would not be led astray. As reviewed later, there was a major campaign against innkeeper Thomas Holman between 1604 and 1608. One of the allegations in the comprehensive indictment of January 1608 was that Holman "did make a gentleman's man drunk in his alehouse, being sent to Henry Rayner's with two horses for a pair of cart-wheels, but through the said Holman's means he made so disguised with drink that he neither was able to guide himself in the day nor in the night, but did use himself most beastly, not fit to be rehearsed in this honourable Court".[74] However, the effect of this charge was undermined by the prosecution's inability to name either the gentleman or the drunken servant. More broadly, the farmer-jurors were probably engaged in the control of the poor, who – Wrightson and Levine estimate – constituted half the population of Terling by the mid-seventeenth century.[75] By the time of the 1851 census, the earliest detailed breakdown of the occupations and internal distribution of Terling people, the village (by then enlarged in area) seems to have functioned largely as a dormitory for labourers, but this may have reflected the Strutt family's control over most of the outlying farms. Yet it is highly possible that, with the exception of a few prosperous craftsmen, the seventeenth-century village was a sink of poverty. In the wider parish, husbandmen seem often to have been smallholders: the tenement hijacked at Terling Hall in 1651 stood on an acre of land. At Flacks Green and Gambles Green, cottagers could run geese and goats on the Tyes. By contrast, the hovels that lined the village street had no such safety net.[76] In assessing the enforcement of order in Terling, we need to remember that extreme poverty was not only socially defined but perhaps also locationally specific. Of course, to assess the role of the farmer-juror in terms of the advantages to employers and ratepayers may miss the importance of a theoretical dimension. In Tudor and Stuart times, the concept of social order possessed almost cosmic overtones: hence Hamlet's anguish that: "The time is out of joint". An assault was not just an affront to the victim, but to the nebulous concept of the king's (or queen's) peace. Misconduct in the alehouses or the haystacks was not a private matter between consenting adults, but a breach of public rectitude that concerned everybody. At the other extreme, there was also a highly practical explanation for the selection of yeomen as jurors. The courts convened in Witham and Chelmsford: farmers had practical reasons to visit market towns, craftsmen would have to take time off from work to represent the parish.[77] If jury service was something routinely assigned to Terling's farmers, it may be that they acted less as instigators of complaints and rather more as messengers and mouthpieces of wealthier neighbours, who regarded such parish service as beneath them.

The wider parish and the social area  The integrity of the parish unit for ecclesiastical and administrative purposes did not necessarily extend to the economic sphere. Farms located at some distance from the village were likely to have links with other parishes. Wrightson and Levine identified one Terling farmer who also held sixty acres in Hatfield Peverel, and this does not seem to have been unusual, as shown by the example of William Rochester, who died in 1584, owning land in two neighbouring parishes. Ridley Hall, a manor in the north of the parish, was for a time the property of the owners of a large mansion in an adjoining parish, New Hall, Boreham: in 1673, the estate spread into five parishes.[78] The process applied in reverse: the Powershall property in Witham parish extended across the Terling border.  Internally, the relatively humble river Ter constituted an obstacle that may have weakened the orientation towards the village of farms along the western fringe. As late as 1953, C.A. Barton noted the "bad communication" between the east and west sides of the parish. The cart bridge by the watermill was the major crossing point: in 1613, it was described as "very dangerous".[79] Farms on the western side, such as Porridge Pot, Ringers and Scarletts, were situated up to two miles from the village, and may have looked to adjoining communities for services. On the eastern edge of the parish, the occupants of Great Farsley probably found it more convenient to transact business in the busy town of Witham. 

The parish of Terling and its social area. The market towns of Braintree, Chelmsford and Maldon were each about nine miles away. The map shows Terling's jigsaw inter-relationship with neighbouring parishes. Links with the much smaller community of Fairstead were especially close.

It should also be pointed out that nearby Fairstead and Faulkbourne were parishes with small populations and no village centre: in 1650, it was reported that Faulkbourne had "not above twelve ffamelyes ... some farre remote from the parish church".[80] In both these communities, the social area was probably more important than the actual parish: Fairstead and Faulkbourne were perhaps not very obvious to the people of Terling, but Terling was probably important to them. The major enterprise in the parish of Fairstead – apart from farming – was a tannery, located at Fuller Street, close to the parish boundary with Terling.[81] EAO notes five wills by Fairstead tanners between 1577 and 1706, suggesting that it was a flourishing business – but tanners must have worked in collaboration with butchers, and no such tradesmen are recorded in the smaller parish. An unexplained case in 1580, when William Boltwood, a Fairstead labourer, threatened to kill "John Walshire", a Terling butcher, may suggest that the two trades worked together across the parish boundary, if not always harmoniously.[82] In the mid-seventeenth century, one rector of Fairstead kept a tithe notebook in which he made "a note of what ground Terling men hold in Fairstead" and also listed "what ground our townsmen [parishioners] hold in Terling".[83] For many practical purposes, the two parishes seem to have been interwoven.

Recognition that the wider parish in effect overlapped with and to some extent shaded into adjoining parishes may help further illuminate one of the most interesting exercises undertaken by Wrightson and Levine, the exploration of Terling's "social area", which established that the parish operated as much less of a closed community for social and economic purposes. It is impossible to disagree with their conclusion that: "In dealing with social mobility, the appropriate unit would be Terling's full social area rather than the parish itself."[84] One major reason for this was that the parish was not a hermetically sealed unit, but rather one that melded at its edges into the broader spread of mid-Essex.  There is a striking manifestation of this in the remarkable mobility of the population: of parents baptising a child at Terling church between 1580 and 1699, "only a little over a quarter and a third of the women" can be traced as having been born in the parish themselves.[85] Wrightson and Levine identified 72 Terling people who found marriage partners outside the community, four-fifths of them from parishes within a nine-mile radius.[86] There were probably others not noted in the parish registers and almost certainly some who married elsewhere.[87] This is a subject that could be revisited: I count 39 parishes within a seven-mile radius whose registers are available for inspection through the subscription service of Essex Archives Online.[88] The investigation would not require a full-scale, number-crunching family reconstitution project, but rather a scan of marriage registers in search of Terling people. A wider survey might throw some light on the class background of those whom I shall portentously call parochially exogamous: gentlefolk were perhaps more likely to negotiate alliances with slightly remote social equals, while the very poor were notoriously mobile. Similarly, four-fifths of recorded partners in illegitimacy also lived within nine miles, although here the sample, 22, is much smaller. Perhaps more striking is the statistic that 18 out of 63 men known to have fathered children by Terling women – almost thirty percent – came from beyond the parish.[89] As Wrightson and Levine point out, poor people often did not marry until the bride was pregnant, and sometimes their intentions were frustrated or at least delayed.

As noted in the discussion of sources, the economic importance of nearby market towns and manifold business activities of their residents have been underlined since the publication of PPEV by the detailed research of Hilda Grieve (on Chelmsford), Janet Gyford (on Witham) and W.J. Petchey (on Maldon). Witham ("small, but handsome and well-built", according to White's Directory of Essex in 1848) was only three miles from Terling village (and, of course, much closer to the south-eastern corner of the parish). It may be assumed to have been of considerable importance, even though Terling people seem to have left relatively few traces in court records concerning its market.[90] This may be taken as evidence that the relationship generally functioned smoothly, with each of the local towns operating on-the-spot procedures to resolve minor commercial disagreements.  Witham historian Janet Gyford notes that the town took care to insist on the maintenance of access roads from nearby communities, such as the "way from tarlinge to Wittham market".[91] In 1594, a complaint was made to the county courts that Witham landowner Jeremy Garrard "will not suffer a foot-bridge, but hath taken it away", thereby blocking the route from Terling to the market.[92] Concern over a footbridge may suggest that much of the traffic from Terling consisted of farmers' wives carrying baskets of eggs and butter to sell for a few shillings on market day.[93] However, a later complaint, in 1652, against a landowner for failing to lop wayside trees, coupled with a general grumble about the state of the road from Terling to Witham, suggests that wheeled traffic was also involved.[94]

Although, as noted, the population of Witham was not much larger than that of Terling, it made sense to centralise services in the town that could not be supported in the individual villages nearby. Thus when specialised work was required to renew the windows of Terling's parish church in 1668, it was a glazier from Witham who undertook the work.[95] But in two respects, a gulf may have remained between town and country. By 1600, Witham had become one of the cloth-manufacturing towns in the north-central Essex textile belt. Cloth towns employed labour, mainly female, in the surrounding parishes to card and spin wool into yarn: a report on distress in the Essex industry submitted to the Privy Council in 1629 stated that "above 2 thousand" people in and around Witham were "mainteyned" by textile work.[96] Unfortunately, it does not specify whether this is a return of the number of people actually employed, or an estimate that included numbers of their dependants. Either way, it obviously exceeded the thousand-strong population of the parish of Witham, and it would seem surprising if the town's clothiers had not farmed out work in Terling. It is puzzling that Wrightson and Levine found "no firm evidence" that this was the case, leading them to conclude that when local women were described as "spinsters", the term simply meant that they were not married. Their occupational survey of 400 "villagers" between 1550 and 1700 found only one weaver.[97] These assumptions perhaps require revisiting, notably in the light of the will made by Christopher Fincham in 1639, in which he is described as "clovyeer": PPEV firmly categorises him as a carpenter.[98]

More intriguing is the way in which Terling's rural location seems to have functioned as a cordon sanitaire that apparently delayed the spread of Puritan ideas. In an extensive survey of formulae of belief used in wills, Janet Gyford found four Witham residents expressing advanced Protestant opinions between 1572 and 1586, but the first Terling example came in the will of John Rochester, written in 1583. Already mentioned, Rochester claimed the status of a gentleman and took care to mention "my great bible of the Geneva translation": most certainly he was not typical of his more humble neighbours.[99] In 1631, the vicar of Braintree admitted his inability to combat the tide of Puritanism that characterised the town. "It is no easy matter", he wrote, "to reduce a numerous congregation into order that hath been disorderly these fifty years". Yet at Terling, barely eight miles from this major market centre, Wrightson and Levine found little evidence of widespread Puritan feeling before the sixteen-twenties – and even then, their "Terling thesis" was ambivalent about its relationship to civic action.[100] People seem to have moved around the local social area more freely than ideas: even so, beliefs eventually caught up with bodies. A newly appointed rector found his parishioners "factitious to the greatest degree" when he arrived in 1664 at Rayne, a community adjoining Braintree, its main-road location making the core village virtually a satellite community. Many Rayne people were "great inveighers against the innocent rites and ceremonies of the Church ... there was too much of this leaven, and it had infected a great part of this countryside (emphasis added).[101]

It may also be helpful to view the social area not simply in terms of the mobility of individuals but as a hierarchy of relationships between communities. Thus it is likely that Fairstead looked to Terling for basic craft and retail services, and there is a case for examining the two parishes as an inter-related unit. Terling people used Witham's market and employed its specialist workers. The town's historian, Janet Gyford, accepts that Witham "looked 'up' to other yet larger commercial centres", outsourcing business activities to Braintree, Chelmsford and Maldon.[102] While, despite the high-quality local scholarship of recent years, it is difficult to identify Terling connections, the shreds that do survive may serve as indications of more general relationships. Thus a Terling man called Shepheard was working as a "brickstriker" in Braintree in 1626, when the Four and Twenty ordered him "to remoove his daughter back againe to Terlinge being settled there": no doubt they feared that she might become a charge upon the town's strained welfare funds.[103] James Robinson, vicar of Terling from 1581 to 1603, apprenticed his three sons to become pharmacists in Maldon. They became prosperous residents of the town, one of them, who called himself "Professor of Physic", surviving until 1665.[104] Maldon, a major coal-importing port by the late sixteenth century, must also have been the source of Terling's fuel supply. Indeed, the parish may have been on the fringe of the economically sustainable distribution area: when the Vestry purchased coal for the poor in 1745, a load purchased for £1, nineteen shillings (£1.95) in Maldon cost a further ten shillings (50p) for transportation to Terling – raising the price on delivery by almost one quarter.[105] Similarly, one of the few traceable instances of the link between Terling and the market town of Chelmsford was a rare example of the relationship going wrong, as revealed by an anguished petition to the magistrates from the poor inhabitants of the town in 1647. As small traders, they complained that they were being marginalised by "engrossers that buy up the butter and cheese by cartloades in the country", reselling to dealers who were evidently supplying the London market, and exploiting their monopoly to force Chelmsford people to pay London prices. Prominent among these undesirables were Goodman Pepper and Richard Warren "of Tarling". Unfortunately, I cannot establish whether they were long-term Terling residents, perhaps farmers themselves, or simply using the parish as a convenient base to mop up supplies from the Chelmsford hinterland.[106] It is possible that more light can be thrown upon the role of Terling people in the "goodly Market Townes" noted by mapmaker John Walker in 1597 from their parish registers. The Chelmsford records begin in 1538, making them among the oldest in England, and are regarded as being of very fine quality. The registers of the three Maldon parishes begin in the fifteen-fifties, and seem extensive.[107]

Essentially, it is argued here that the concept of the 'social area' may be usefully revisited once we think of Terling, not as a village – its predominant characterisation in PPEV – but rather as a parish, a disparate community of people living across five square miles of fertile mid-Essex countryside, interacting with one another for some purposes but dealing with outsiders across a broader neighbourhood for others. Terling functioned collectively and reasonably efficiently as an ecclesiastical and administrative unit, but in economic and social terms, its inhabitants as individuals were as likely to develop relationships – both personal and business – beyond its boundaries.

The village  In the early seventeenth century, the village of Terling essentially consisted of two streets which met at right angles by the parish church. The main thoroughfare (today simply called The Street) ran north to south. Beyond the village it was called (in 1597) "Witham waye", although it also led to Hatfield Peverel, while a spur road headed south-west towards Boreham.[108] The secondary arm of the village, Mill Street, ran west past the village green to the river Ter, where the bridge beside the watermill was the major crossing point for the whole parish.[109]

The southern section of the village of Terling as it had existed c. 1600 was destroyed between 1771 and 1850. The 1597 map can be used to reconstruct this schematic plan. The major buildings to be noted are the Angel (marked E), the village inn offering a broader range of services than a mere alehouse, and its inconveniently close neighbour, the Mildmay mansion (marked A). Terling village was about 300 yards from north to south. 

Once the village area has been distinguished from the wider parish, it is reasonable to ask: who lived there, and what was its economic function?  It would be easy to assume that artisan and commercial activities were located along its streets, with the inhabitants of the fringe areas trudging into the village to do business and refresh themselves in its alehouses. The social historian A.F.J. Brown was impressed by the complexity of the local economy in the early eighteenth century, identifying around twenty men engaged in a dozen occupations, some of whom were probably sufficiently successful to have employed journeymen.[110]  Occupations given in seventeenth-century wills suggest that the same trades existed earlier, although there were probably few retailers in early seventeenth-century Terling other than butchers. Some of these activities – carpenter, glover, shoemaker – may indeed have taken place in the village. However, others, such as the two millers (one of them no doubt at the watermill on the Ter) almost certainly operated elsewhere. The potash-maker probably plied his trade close to the woodlands that mostly fringed the parish.[111] This may also have been the case with the maltster reported by Brown. The 1851 census, the first to link occupations to precise residence, reported a beerhouse at Flacks Green. Its landlord was the only maltster in the parish, and this may suggest a long-established business. It is surely unlikely that the four butchers, two blacksmiths and two wheelwrights noted by Brown could all have competed for business in a village of fewer than three hundred people. A blacksmith and a wheelwright worked at Flacks Green in 1841: as with malting, these were trades that required heavy equipment, and hence were likely to occupy the same premises through long periods of time.  This is enough to demonstrate that it is not safe to assume that all court records regarding artisans and ale-sellers relate to the village. However, challenging the assumption that villagers were extensively engaged in artisan and commercial activities provokes another question.  While almost all Terling people were indirectly dependent upon agriculture, Brown's figures suggest that around one hundred of them may have belonged to families that were not directly engaged in farming activities. Even if they all lived in the principal settlement, this would leave around 150 villagers – and around thirty heads of families – to be explained. A few may have worked as assistants to the tradesmen, but most were probably labourers, and their families would have been poor, the more so because cottagers crowded together alongside a village street would have had little garden space to provide them with some chance of bare subsistence. To conclude that the majority of the inhabitants of Terling lived in poverty, some of them no doubt desperately poor, is hardly a surprising insight into an Essex village around the year 1600. However, their proximity to two major buildings illustrated on the schematic plan is of importance to issues of social control. These two buildings merit discussion, since it may be argued that, to a considerable extent, the dynamics of the village revolved around interaction between them. They were the Angel [marked E on the schematic plan) and the Mildmay family mansion [marked A]. Neither is specifically identified in PPEV.

Alehouses and inns The discussion in PPEV of the Holman-Aldridge hospitality business, which is not formally identified as the Angel, forms part of a more general consideration of the problem of the alehouse. Much of the social control activity of the local courts was directed at that perennial sink of iniquity: Wrightson and Levine calculated that one-third of all Terling prosecutions between 1560 and 1649 related either to disorderly behaviour in alehouses, or to their operation without a licence – with a peak of fifteen of cases of the latter in the decade after 1609.[112] Again, as pointed out, while it is reasonable to assume that many alehouses were located within the village area, there can be no certainty about this: some – like that of John Norrell – were probably scattered more widely around the five square miles of the parish.[113] It has been estimated that in the sixteen-thirties, Essex had one alehouse for every 125 people.[114] Given that the village of Terling contained around 250 people, this might suggest that it could support only two alehouses. However, it is also likely that village hostelries served a wider area, as might be deduced from the apparent absence of outlets in nearby Fairstead.[115] In urban Witham around 1620, there may have been as many as one outlet, legal or otherwise, for every forty people – or, more realistically, every twenty adults. The market town's hospitality sector clearly relied upon outsiders for business, and the same was likely, if on a smaller scale, in the village of Terling.

The second question that arises relates to the definition of an alehouse. At the lower end of the spectrum, it must have been difficult to define an illegally operating alcohol business. It was surely understandable that country people would gather for warmth and conviviality in the home of some friendly neighbour, and it might be simple good manners to contribute a few pennies to share a kilderkin of ale and the cost of some candles. The boundary between hospitality and commerce must have been a very fine line: it has been suggested that many of those prosecuted "were apparently guilty of little more than entertaining friends or relatives".[116] Wrightson and Levine found that those prosecuted for operating unlicensed alehouses were mainly poor, and from the lowest ranks of society. Generally, their activities only came to the notice of the courts when there were the complications of incriminating behaviour – drunkenness, gaming, swearing, dancing and Sabbath breaking. "This type of alehouse must have been almost impossible to suppress", commented a historian of seventeenth-century Essex, "and the disorders associated with it almost impossible to eradicate."[117]

Yet it is reasonable to assume that, hidden within the blanket complaints about "alehouses", there were some enterprises that amounted to continuing businesses, operating on a larger scale, providing food and accommodation – in short, the occasional village inn. Legislation and judicial enforcement tended to telescope the terms alehouse, victualling house and inn: in theory, inns were "for the relief and lodging of wayfaring people travelling from place to place about their necessary business", while victualling houses were little more than canteens supplying "the wants of poor people" who lacked the facilities to cook, bake and brew for themselves. (Officially, mere alehouses existed more or less on sufferance.)[118] The precise differences between these categories do not seem to have been defined, the distinction being a matter of subjective perception. In 1567, a Hatfield Peverel man contested an allegation that he kept an unlicensed "tippling house" by insisting that it was in reality a "common inn"; a century later, the tenant of a house called the Crown in Witham sued for a reduction in rent, claiming that the property-owner had falsely claimed that it was an inn.[119] In the sixteenth- and seventeenth-centuries, merchants and publicans used signs to identify their premises. In the use of such identifiers, there would obviously be a difference between the recognised hostelry, which wished to attract customers, and the illicit shebeen that sought to avoid unwelcome attention.[120] Unfortunately, the local courts dealt almost exclusively with individuals, licensing individuals and prosecuting illegal traders by name alone, rarely if ever specifying a business identity. By the early seventeenth century, Terling certainly had one hospitality business which functioned on a grander scale than the humble alehouse, the village inn called the Angel which operated prominently and sometimes controversially right in the middle of Terling village.[121] Wrightson and Levine supply the outline of the seventeenth-century story, but do not specify either the nature or the location of the enterprise.[122]

In 1603, Thomas Holman married the widow of John Aldridge, who had died the previous year. Wrightson and Levine identify Aldridge as a carpenter:[123] if, as may be assumed, he was also operating an alehouse, it would presumably have been a small-scale and part-time enterprise. Thomas Holman was evidently unpopular in Terling, probably because he was an outsider, but also because he described himself as a vintner, operating on a grander – and notably more alcoholic – scale than the average alehouse keeper.[124] Sometime in the middle of the sixteen-twenties, he was succeeded by another John Aldridge, whom PPEV describes as his stepson.[125] Thus the Aldridge-Holman hospitality business was operating as early as 1602, and was probably then already long-established, although originally maybe as a typical alehouse.[126] At the very least, Thomas Holman sought to continue an existing enterprise, but it is also possible that he aimed to develop the business, branching out to sell more exotic forms of alcohol. The point deserves to be underlined: by the early seventeenth century, the Angel was operating on a larger scale than the average, and it was located right in the middle of the seventeenth-century village: if its patrons reeled and roared their way home drunk, their raucous revelry would disturb respectable residents and maybe even annoy the occupants of the Mildmay mansion itself.[127] As Wrightson and Levine acknowledge, prosecutions by parish officials designed to control the number of outlets were matched by measures designed to ensure that established premises conformed to acceptable standards. When Terling's representatives complained about Thomas Holman and John Aldridge, they were not engaged in "the harassment of a repetitive offender",[128] nor were they grumbling about a perennially wayward alehouse, they were demanding regulation of the village's premier and most prominent inn.[129]

There were phases when Terling's spokesmen most certainly did complain. The account given by Wrightson and Levine of the conflict around Thomas Holman in the early years of the seventeenth century can be expanded, and surely acquires new significance when placed in the context of the Angel and its position in the village. [130] One local farmer, Richard Rochester, was determined to drive him out of business. A member of one of the dominant Terling families and cousin of the current owner of Great Loyes, Richard Rochester was variously described as a yeoman and a gentleman. He believed in enforcing his demands, and had previously twice been summoned to appear before the courts, once for evicting a neighbour and once for seizing sheep in lieu of alleged unpaid rents.[131] (Being a member of the arrogantly dominant Rochester clan, he probably did not appear.)  He farmed at "Owles", in the hamlet of Owls Hill, not far from the village.[132] In January 1604, making a rare court appearance as a prosecutor, Rochester won the first round against the landlord of the Angel, who was forced to promise to desist from selling wine and beer. However, there was a loophole that Holman evidently exploited: he was given "tolerance" to stay in business until "Hallowtide" in order to sell his stock of wine. Hallowtide is a three-day period in the Church calendar that begins with Halloween on 31 October: Holman had managed to secure almost a year's stay of execution. This gave him the space either to ignore the order to close in November 1604, or successfully to lobby the justices to allow him to remain in business. Perhaps he sought the protection of Sir Thomas Mildmay, the Terling landowner and energetic magistrate whose activities are discussed later in this essay: here the county records are probably defective.

The reference to Holman's stock of wine – coupled with his repeated description as a vintner – confirms that he was running something more than a village alehouse (indeed, the case against him in 1604 indicates that he was selling the much more upmarket tipple of beer), perhaps on a scale previously unknown in Terling.[133] In "Terling Images" I discuss the possibility that the peace with Spain concluded by James I in 1604 may have made fortified wine easier to obtain, perhaps cheaper and hence potentially more damaging to tipplers familiar with good English ale. In mid-seventeenth century Chelmsford, the regulated price for sack – Falstaff's favourite tipple – was ninepence a pint, although one innkeeper was caught charging a shilling (twelve pence) – the average daily wage for a labourer in Terling.[134] No wonder Terling officials would complain, sometime in the sixteen-twenties, that the next landlord of the Angel, John Aldridge, was "harbouring" drinkers who were "soe poore that many of them have almes of the parishe and their wifs and children beg in the parishe".[135] If Holman was selling Spanish sack by the pint to unsuspecting countryfolk who quaffed it like low-alcohol ale, it is hardly surprising that there were occasional cases of total inebriation. This may perhaps help to explain the concerted attempt to close him down which apparently spanned the years from 1604 to 1610.[136]

Richard Rochester renewed the attack in 1607.[137] The farmer Augustine Norrell, who supported him, was hardly a disinterested stakeholder. His father, John Norrell, not only kept an alehouse in the parish, probably vital in providing him with an income in his old age, but in 1606 and 1607 he was specifically licensed as a victualler, making him a direct competitor of Thomas Holman. Norrell and Rochester may also have been related.[138] It is also possible that the two acted out in support of John Aldridge the younger, who had been about seventeen when his father died in 1602, and would have turned twenty-one sometime around the height of the campaign to oust his stepfather: he would have had some reason to feel aggrieved that his father's untimely death had opened the way for an interloper to muscle in on his inheritance.[139] The dispute generated threats which escalated to alleged violence against property and even to physical confrontation. Through to the autumn of 1610, residents lined up on either side of the feud, standing surety for the principals and no doubt contributing to division in the community.[140] However, the record then falls silent. It seems it was tacitly accepted that Holman would continue to run the Angel. Complaints were intermittent, and almost pro forma. In 1618, early in the climactic crackdown that is emphasised in PPEV, Holman was one of three so-called alehouse proprietors denounced to the magistrates for allowing disorder on their premises, serving drink to customers who should have been attending church, and allowing them to play at cards and dice. From the mid-sixteen twenties – against a background of hard times in Essex – parish officials intermittently pursued his successor, John Aldridge.[141] To understand the charges, it is necessary to appreciate that Aldridge was more than the "disorderly alehousekeeper" of PPEV.[142] The complaints against Holman and Aldridge formed part of an ongoing regulatory process, a form of armed neutrality, since nobody (after 1610) seriously expected that so substantial a business as the Angel could be closed. A robust analysis of the configuration of the village might have clarified its function as the village inn, and the significance of its central location.

One curious aspect of this unusually vitriolic outbreak of disorder within the parish was the failure of Sir Thomas Mildmay, lord of the manor of Terling Place for forty years, to mediate and dampen down the conflict. As discussed below, he was a key figure in the county administration who often dealt directly with problems at local level on his own initiative. One limiting factor on his ability to intervene was the complication that he shared landlord ascendancy within the parish of Terling with the Rochesters, long-established gangster gentry who brooked no opposition to their demands. The other was probably that his health was in decline: he had made his will in 1606 – usually a sign of impending mortality – and died in July 1608. While he continued to attend quarter sessions until three months before his death, he left notably fewer traces in the archives from the summer of 1607. To explore the role of the Mildmays in Terling, it is necessary to turn to the other notable – but overlooked – building on the 1597 map, the former mansion of the bishops of Norwich.  

The Mildmay mansion From the middle of the thirteenth century, the bishops of Norwich had owned, and intermittently visited,[143] a mansion on the edge of the village of Terling.[144] The 1597 map indicates that it stood a short distance to the south-west of the parish church. "A stately howse, S[i]r Tho[mas] Myldemaye," the geographer John Norden called it in 1594 (apparently the only known description), and it was evidently the house occupied by Robert Mildmay that was charged for twenty fireplaces in the 1662 Hearth Tax.[145] A thumbnail sketch on the 1597 map suggests that the mansion was a larger version of a building that still stands next to the village green, now known as the Tudor House, possibly erected at the same time, during the late fifteenth century. By the nineteenth century, this housed the estate office and it may have been originally intended to provide a home for a resident steward.[146]

It should be noted that it was highly unusual in Essex for a major private residence to be located so close to a village, indeed practically forming part of it. Most of the big houses of Tudor times were situated at a slight distance from the communities that their owners sought to dominate – such as Moulsham Hall at Chelmsford or Gidea Hall near Romford.[147] It is unlikely that the bishops of Norwich spent enough time at Terling to be bothered by intrusive neighbours. However, once the mansion passed into the hands of private owners – its size meaning that they would be families of high social standing – then the proximity of potentially disruptive villagers was likely to raise issues of social control. Generally, in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Essex, the gentry pulled the strings at local level, either through their role as magistrates or their authority as landlords. However, there are indications that the owners of Terling Place did not control all the tenements in the village. Some buildings fell under the sway of a shadowy manor called Ockendon Fee.[148] Although the Strutt family energetically bought up land across the wider parish, the tithe map of 1844 shows that, even in the mid-nineteenth century, they did not own the houses along the north side of the village green.[149] From about 1820, the second member of the dynasty, J.H. Strutt, gradually purchased "most of the cottages in the village" as a prelude to clearing the southern end of The Street around 1850: thirty years earlier, the powerful squire of Terling Place had not owned all the property on his doorstep.[150] A comparison may be made here with Ingatestone, a small market town on the main London-Chelmsford highway. Here Sir William Petre, who controlled most of the parish, was able to forbid his tenants to take any case to court without first consulting him, with the threat of a heavy fine through the manorial courts if they disobeyed.[151] One by-product of this paternalist control is that there are no recorded cases of problems with alehouses in Ingatestone throughout the entire century between 1550 and 1650 – an unlikely record of ordered sobriety which suggests tightly enforced landlord control.[152] By contrast, divided ownership in seventeenth-century Terling probably made it sometimes necessary to appeal to the county magistrates to suppress irregularities.[153]  As outlined below, for forty years until his death in 1608 – or, at least, his likely physical decline from 1607 – Sir Thomas Mildmay, one of the key figures in Essex administration, probably dealt with minor offences and infringements on his own authority. If so, his informal writ did not enable him to control Terling's rival gentry clan, the Rochesters. Accusations against them of the violent enforcement of their demands invariably seemed to end inconclusively. "Gentlemen … flouted the system with alacrity", remarks one historian of the sixteenth-century Essex courts: "they came to court when they wanted to, and not otherwise".[154]

Thus by any standards, one major starting point for any reconsideration of the Terling thesis will involve the recognition that this "stately howse" at the edge of Terling was a major feature in the village, and a notable landmark within the parish and the locality. Yet it is not mentioned in PPEV. Indeed, gentry do not play even minor roles in Wrightson and Levine's analysis: indeed, they rarely appear. As they remark, "the gentlemen of the parish chose, for the most part, to participate little in parochial institutions before the late seventeenth century." In strict terms of office-holding, this is true. Throughout the seventeenth century as a whole, 56 percent of Terling's churchwardens and 55 percent of its jurors – the men sent to the magistrates to report on their neighbours' misdeeds – were drawn from the second tier of their four-level social model, Category II, and the percentage was almost certainly higher in the early decades. It was this predominance that led Wrightson and Levine to describe a small coterie of farmers around Augustine Norrell and Richard Tabor as "the ruling group of the village". [155] But we should consider the possibility that they may have been no more than middle management, the men who ran the errands and enforced the wishes of their superiors. Any study of social control in Tudor and Stuart times will keep in mind the likelihood of gentry involvement at local level, if only specifically to explain circumstances where it may have appeared to be absent.[156]

Like the big house itself, the powerful families who owned Terling are largely absent from the pages of PPEV. One contributory reason for their virtual invisibility may be that, from 1536 to 1626, the mansion was the property of wealthy figures who owned other estates, and generally treated Terling as a subsidiary residence. Until 1626, Moulsham Hall was the primary residence of the Mildmay family, but at the death of the third Sir Thomas Mildmay, the Chelmsford properties passed to his brother Henry, while Terling was inherited by his nephew Robert.[157] Only from then is it safe to assume that the mansion was continuously occupied. However, in relation to the question of gentry control over the parish, this argument cuts both ways: the wealthier the landlord, the greater we might suspect his influence with magistrates and officials, even in relation to a secondary estate. (Here, special considerations apply in relation to the third Sir Thomas Mildmay, who seems to have been alienated from the local elite.) There are certainly indications that successive owners maintained staff in Terling – for instance, the burial of a servant in 1576 suggests that the Mildmays kept a permanent household – while a resident steward would have had the responsibility to report local problems to his employer.[158] Any reconsideration of the Terling thesis should seek to enquire how far the landlords need to be put back into the story.

In 1534, Terling's principal manor passed to the Crown through an exchange between Henry VIII and the bishop of Norwich. Two years later, it fell to the great Reformation land-grabber, Lord Chancellor Thomas Audley. In addition to the advantage of its convenient location between London and his home town of Colchester, Terling was also next door to New Hall, Boreham, a property which Henry VIII had acquired from the Boleyn family in 1516 and turned into a royal palace which he called Beaulieu. Anne Boleyn's brother George had effectively secured the control of Beaulieu in 1528, but his execution in 1536 seemed to open the way to Henry's return to his Essex retreat. As one of Henry's key advisers, Audley would have found it useful to own a substantial residence so close to one of the centres of power.[159] In the event, Henry VIII made little use of Beaulieu through the last decade of his reign: perhaps its Boleyn associations were too painful. In 1538, Audley added Saffron Walden's abbey to his loot, and began to turn it into his main residence – hence the name, Audley End. Even so, he certainly spent time at Terling. In 1541, Audley and his wife christened a daughter in the parish church, and one of their servants married a local woman the following year. Audley's will, made shortly before his death in 1544, makes clear that Terling was his second home. Not only did he describe its furnishings in detail, but he indicated that his Terling property was the centre of a large estate that included lands in eleven nearby parishes.[160] Unfortunately, detailed administrative and judicial records for Essex do not survive before the mid-fifteen-fifties, so it is impossible to know how much influence Audley exercised in Terling.

In 1563, the Duke of Norfolk, Audley's son-in-law, sold the manor of Terling to Thomas Mildmay of Chelmsford, whose descendants held it until the late seventeenth century.[161] Thomas Mildmay (for convenience, I call him Thomas I)[162] was the son of a Chelmsford merchant who had made a career in government financial management: "Master Auditor", as he was known, could hardly fail to become very wealthy. It seems that his ambition was to own his native town. In 1540, he acquired the manor of Moulsham, which gave him control of its suburb, but it was not until 1563 – the year he bought Terling – that he succeeded in purchasing the main manor of Chelmsford itself.[163] He died in 1566, bequeathing ownership of both Moulsham Hall and Terling to his eldest son, Thomas II. Knighted in 1567, Thomas II was twice a member of parliament, as well as an assiduous justice of the peace and deputy lieutenant of the county who supervised the raising of levies to defend Essex against the Armada.[164] To use a colloquial term, he was the undoubted boss of Chelmsford ("mine own town", as he called it): at his death in 1608, the parish register noted that "the towne of Chelmsford lost a most worthy governor".[165] Although Moulsham Hall was his principal residence, which he "much bettered, augmented, and beautified", Thomas II also spent time at Terling.[166] His eldest son, Thomas III, was baptised there in 1572 and, in the following year, the Terling parish register records that the Mildmays buried a daughter, even though they had a family vault at Chelmsford. In 1589, another daughter was married in the parish church.[167] In 1588, Sir Thomas Mildmay demanded the right to command the levies from the half-hundred of Witham, which included Terling, indicating a sense of belonging to the area.[168]  As a justice of the peace (i.e. local magistrate), Mildmay could deal with minor matters on his own initiative, for instance taking 'recognisances', which operated like bail, in which sureties guaranteed that individuals locked in some quarrel would abstain from violence.[169] There are at least six instances between 1580 and 1605 in EAO in which he acted to calm Terling disputes – there may be more, but variant spellings of his surname make them hard to track down, and many instances of arbitration or warning could well have gone unrecorded. All of these administrative matters suggest his presence at the mansion.[170] (The number of examples, of course, reflects the relative infrequency of violent quarrels in Terling, not the rarity of the landlord's appearance.[171]) He died in 1608, and there are indications that his health had begun to fail two years earlier.  His successor, Thomas III, was not a magistrate.  Wrightson and Levine emphasise "the mounting use of the courts the regulative prosecutions after 1607" by "the ruling group within the village" as evidence of a campaign against "forms of behavior previously tolerated".[172] However, this sudden increase in court prosecutions (to 7.5 cases annually in the five years to 1612) may simply reflect the death of a semi-resident justice of the peace, and the need to fill the vacuum of control by using more formal means of enforcement.[173]

The namesake who inherited Terling's main manor on the death of Thomas II in 1608 was a very different personality. Unfortunately, the determination and the sense of duty that characterised the first two generations of the Mildmay dynasty evaporated in the third. Thomas III was given a flying start, which included two years as a gentleman student at Cambridge and a spell at Grays Inn, intended no doubt to give him the basic legal knowledge useful to a landowner and appropriate to a future county leader. In 1593, his father mobilised his influence to have Thomas III elected to parliament as the representative of Maldon, making him one of Tudor England's youngest MPs.  Unfortunately, at that point, his public career ground to a halt. His father deplored the "vain and unthrifty courses" of his eldest son, and Thomas III never sat in parliament again.[174] Although he became a knight in 1603 and a baronet when the new order was established in 1611, neither can be regarded as regarded as an award for achievement: James I devalued the honour by handing out knighthoods wholesale, while the acquisition of a baronetcy involved a straight cash transaction. Thomas III served as sheriff of Essex in 1609, an honour that was unpopular in gentry circles because the incumbent was held personally responsible for financial issues. However, the office was unusual in having a support staff, an under-sheriff and bailiffs who performed most of the work, making it possible to carry an inefficient or unengaged appointee.[175] Thomas III also briefly succeeded his father as a deputy lieutenant, one of a small number of hard-working gentry who oversaw the local militia, but the historian of the county administration, B.W. Quintrell, concludes that "by 1612 he had been stripped permanently of his county offices", apparently having fulfilled his father's forebodings.[176] Perhaps most notably of all, Thomas III never acted as a justice of the peace, and hence lacked the legal authority of an Essex magistrate to deal with minor offences on the spot and on his own initiative. This alone probably helps to explain why formal prosecutions of misdemeanours increased from Terling after 1607.[177]

Here, then, was somebody with enormous wealth that theoretically commanded social pre-eminence, but who seems to have been a renegade outsider to the county elite. The administration of Essex in the early seventeenth century – the functioning of its courts and the training of its militia – depended upon about thirty members of the gentry. They constituted not so much a privileged in-group as a cadre of remarkably hard-working officials, acting to a considerable extent as their own clerks, enforcers and organisers. It is likely that they resented a fellow landowner who, despite his wealth and honours, stood apart from the duties expected of his class. Thomas III not only lacked the authority of a justice of the peace, he also had no claims for favour from local magistrates.

Nonetheless, his status as a landlord gave him influence, and even power, within his own domains. Chelmsford historian Hilda Grieve pointed out that, as both lord of the manor and patron of the living – entitled to appoint the vicar – Thomas III "headed the town hierarchy". He co-operated with prominent inhabitants in their attempts to clean up the town's filthy streets. In 1613, he intervened in a dispute over the claim by the vicar, the combative William Pasfield, of the right to nominate one of the churchwardens. Mildmay's education and legal training helping him to marshal evidence and impose a solution – although, unhappily, not one that created harmony in the community.[178] As discussed below, there are indications that – like his father – he also spent time at his country property. If he was a major force among the sometimes disputatious and turbulent population of the county town, it seems reasonable to assume that he would also have wished to exercise some degree of sway around his country estate, although – in contrast to Chelmsford – in Terling he had to share authority with other landowners in the parish. We cannot assume that it was an unrelated coincidence that Terling experienced a heightened campaign of law enforcement between 1617 and 1620.

The drive for social control 1617-1620  Between 1617 and 1620, Terling's parish officers launched a crackdown against various forms of anti-social conduct, prosecuting eighteen cases before the county magistrates, and a further 22 – mostly drinking offences – in the ecclesiastical courts.[179] Wrightson and Levine saw this period as constituting the culmination of an increasing tendency to use the courts to regulate behaviour in the community that had begun in 1607. They accepted that rising population created pressures which called for greater social control, but stressed that the number of prosecutions "rose much faster than did the population of the village. Something was happening in Terling."[180] Central to one of the major theses of PPEV was the insistence that "early seventeenth-century Terling was witnessing a re-drawing of the boundaries of permitted behaviour". The process was driven by a "confrontational social impulse" which "took root most strongly in a particular segment of local society".[181] "[T]he men responsible for the mounting use of the courts for regulative prosecutions after 1607 can be quite clearly identified by simply examining the lists of churchwardens and of presentment jurymen," the latter being the spokesmen sent by Terling to report to the local and county courts. These records "establish which Terling men were most active in the prosecution of the misdemeanours of their neighbors": of the 21 "activists", five were large-scale farmers, fifteen middling yeomen or prosperous craftsmen, and only one from lower down the social hierarchy. Wrightson and Levine categorised them as a "distinct group" within Terling, men like Augustine Norrell and Richard Tabor, whose "rise to power" in the years after the failed attack on Thomas Holman in 1607-8 gradually made them, as already noted, "the ruling group of the village".[182] Their "social anxieties" – the fear of disorder caused by drunkenness and their opposition to the high rates that would be needed to meet the welfare costs imposed by illegitimacy – led them not only to impose their values on the poor but also, at the climax of their campaign, to unleash a wordy petition to the county's law enforcers. "They had the audacity in 1620 to lecture the assize judges for the county, reminding them 'that the magistrate beareth not the sword for naught, but is ordained by God to take punishment on them that do evil'."[183] Yet, as Wrightson and Levine recognise, even respected community leaders courted resentment and maybe retaliation by reporting their poorer neighbours to the authorities. "What had led them to act so firmly against forms of behavior previously tolerated in the village and seek to establish new standards of order?"[184]

This essay has already offered the alternative suggestion that anti-social behaviour may not have been "previously tolerated" before 1607 at all, but was probably dealt with by Thomas II acting on his own authority as a magistrate – although even he could not repress the violent tendencies of the rival gentry family, the Rochesters. It was not the attitude to offenders that changed, but the method of enforcement: the churchwardens and jurymen, in whose name prosecutions were launched, were acting as agents – maybe, of course, willing agents – for the new Sir Thomas Mildmay, Thomas III, and his second wife, Ann Savile. Thomas III would certainly have known his father's second home at Terling from childhood, the more so as he was probably born there. As outlined above, like his father, he was active in Chelmsford affairs, but that would not rule out spending time at his nearby Terling estate during the years between 1608, when he inherited, and his death in 1626 – especially since the family's principal residence, Moulsham Hall, seems to have been initially occupied by his stepmother.[185]  Indeed, it may be argued that his potential authority in, and commitment to, Terling was considerably enhanced between 1616 and 1618 by two funerals and a wedding.

The end of the Rochesters  For all their wealth and influence, the Mildmays were latecomers to Terling. Another gentry family, the Rochesters, had arrived in the parish as far back as 1316. In its heyday, their mansion, Great Loyes on the road to Fairstead, probably rivalled in size the Mildmay residence alongside the village, as may still be seen from its moated site on Google Satellite. "The house was remarkably large, but a great part of it has been taken down," said the county historian Thomas Wright in 1836, drawing upon local tradition and noting that, even then, there was "sufficient of it left to make a very good and commodious farm-house."[186] The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography calls one prominent figure, Sir Robert Rochester, a member of "a minor Essex gentry family", but by the time of his birth in 1507 they already had connections with the court of Henry VIII. Sir Robert Rochester helped organise the East Anglian counter-coup against Lady Jane Grey in 1553, and was MP for Essex (a prestigious position as a knight of the shire: the rising courtier Sir William Petre was the county's second MP), and a trusted adviser during the short reign of 'Bloody' Mary. Rochester had won her trust when she was a princess, harassed for her Catholic faith, partly because his brother, a Carthusian monk, had been hanged in 1537 for denying Henry VIII's claim to be head of the English Church. Perhaps it was a desire to even the score on behalf of his martyred sibling that led Sir Thomas Rochester to attend the burning of the first Protestant victim of the Marian persecution. Although he did not live in Terling, at the time of his death he was planning to establish a chantry in the parish church, one of the last such ventures in Catholic England, and almost certainly intended to pray for the souls of his many ancestors.[187]

The main line of the family, at Great Loyes, did not maintain its Catholic tradition: John Rochester, nephew of Sir Thomas, was the first Terling resident to use an advanced Protestant formula when professing his faith in the preamble to his will, written in 1583; he also owned a copy of the Calvinist Geneva Bible, the first printed book recorded in the parish. But he too shared the pride of family, specifying that he wished to be buried in the north aisle of the parish church because it had been built by his great-grandfather, "and under the same stone that he lieth under", which bore the date 1444. By the sixteenth century, there were usually several branches of the family farming in Terling (not always harmoniously), and the parish church was (and still is) liberally supplied with Rochester memorials – in 1768, Morant counted thirteen – heavy in praise of their virtues. John Rochester in 1583 instructed his executors to add another, commemorating himself, his two wives, four sons and eight daughters. One of the girls, "Phillip" (Philippa), had married Thomas Shaa (pronounced 'Shaw') of Terling Hall, on the southern fringe of the parish, thereby forming a link between the Rochesters and another local gentry family.[188]

So long as there were Rochesters in Terling, the Mildmays were intruders who could not dominate the entire community in the way that they controlled Chelmsford and Moulsham. However, after three hundred years, the clan approached its end, and its surname was about to disappear from the parish. Richard Rochester, who had failed to shut down the innkeeper Thomas Holman, belonged to one of the collateral branches of the clan. He must have died soon after making his will in 1615 (describing himself as a gentleman, even though he does not seem to have farmed much land). Crucially, the last of the principal line, another John Rochester, failed to emulate his grandfather's fecundity. At his death in 1618, he left Great Loyes to his widow, Frances, for onward transmission to her heirs, suggesting that she had children by a previous marriage.[189] Essex historian Philip Morant did not trace the ownership of the property thereafter, but it is likely that the Great Loyes mansion soon began its genteel decline into a comfortable farmhouse. When Terling's 56 ratepayers were compelled to contribute to Charles I's ingenious and imposed tax, Ship Money, in 1636, there was not a single Rochester on the list.[190] The upstart Mildmays had outlasted Terling's premier dynasty.

For Sir Thomas Mildmay, Baronet, Thomas III, life was also entering a new phase. A widower, he married his second wife, Ann Savile, in 1617, at about the time of the escalation of social control prosecutions. The wedding took place at Terling, which suggests that the Mildmay mansion was fully operational at the time. The parish register simply notes that Ann was a gentlewoman, which is neither surprising nor particularly revealing. It is likely that she was connected to the wealthy Savile family of Yorkshire gentry, although a precise link has not been established: Thomas III's first wife was from Yorkshire, and he may have maintained links with the county.[191] Most Yorkshire gentry were conservative in religion, and one prominent Savile fought for Charles I during the Civil War. Nonetheless, it is possible that Ann Savile was sympathetic to Puritan ideas, while Thomas III, now in his mid-forties, perhaps thought it was time to exorcise the excesses of his early years. In 1624, he used his patronage to appoint Thomas Weld as vicar of Terling, choosing a cleric whose religious views were so radical that Laud drove him out of the country eight years later.[192] Thomas III could hardly have been unaware of his nominee's opinions: Weld was a graduate of a notoriously Puritan institution, Emmanuel College, Cambridge, founded forty years earlier by a cousin, Sir Walter Mildmay (and avoided by Thomas himself when he studied at the University around 1590). If, as has been suggested, he was appointed on the recommendation of a Witham neighbour, Dame Katherine Barnardiston, also a fervent Puritan, there would be confirmation that Thomas III was well informed about Weld's theology.[193] Of course, it is not necessary to postulate a set of advanced religious beliefs to explain why a wealthy couple might wish to eradicate drunkenness and immorality from their immediate neighbourhood. It might simply be that Ann had arrived at her matrimonial second home to discover a mildly raucous village on its doorstep, and had pressed her husband to reinvigorate the regulatory activities pursued earlier in the decade.

Perhaps Thomas III had decided that Ann should begin married life in his Terling mansion because it would provide the couple with a degree of privacy. He had given a home at Moulsham Hall to his ageing uncle, Edward Mildmay, the last surviving son of Master Auditor, Thomas I, who had no-one else to care for him. In poor health from 1613, the old man was touchingly grateful: "Good nephew," he said on his deathbed five years later, "you have been a father to me." Moulsham Hall was spacious enough to accommodate a spare Mildmay, but maybe Thomas III decided that Uncle Edward was not an ideal honeymoon accessory.[194] In any case, there was a more pressing reason to avoid holding a wedding at Chelmsford in 1617: the county town was in the grip of a massive ecclesiastical row. Townspeople continued to object to the rector, William Pasfield, whose pretensions to control over parish affairs Thomas III had arbitrated in 1614. As usual in such disputes, allegations multiplied and became fantastic (had he really permitted the construction of a latrine in Chelmsford churchyard?) but the core of the complaint was that Pasfield was simply not doing his job. His defence, that he was afraid to show his face in town for fear of being arrested for debt, hardly aroused confidence in his spiritual ministrations. In August 1617, Thomas III, as patron of the living, led a deputation of local worthies to Lambeth Palace to demand action from the bishop of London, John King. Like many contemporary clergy, William Pasfield double-jobbed, although claiming the income from two sets of tithes had apparently not stabilised his finances. The bishop ordered him to confine his activities to his second parish, Wethersfield, and arranged for his duties in the county town to be carried out by a curate, supplemented by a series of locum preachers. It was a sensible practical solution, if perhaps only temporary, but unfortunately it left some theoretical loose ends.[195]

The confused situation in Chelmsford was exploited by an ambitious and unscrupulous Scotsman called John Michaelson. A graduate of St Andrews University, he had come south and secured ordination in the Church of England. Even in the reign of James I, a monarch imported from north of the Border, Michaelson must have been an exotic figure: a sympathetic account of his later sufferings as a royalist admitted that "his Scottish tone and pronunciation of our language" made his sermons difficult to understand.[196] In 1615, he secured appointment as vicar of a small parish on the Essex marshes, but was anxious to move on (and up) from a poorly paid living in an unhealthy location. Indeed, he quickly settled in Chelmsford, and began to intrigue for Pasfield's job. The law stated that if a benefice (an ecclesiastical appointment) fell vacant and the patron failed to find a successor, the Crown could, and should, step in and make  the appointment. Perhaps using a network of his fellow countrymen at the Stuart court, Michaelson successfully argued that Pasfield had vacated his post. In March 1617, four months before Thomas III persuaded bishop King to move the problem rector sideways, Michaelson was granted a royal warrant – the paper work was completed in a remarkably rapid two days – naming him as the next incumbent of Chelmsford. At that point, ecclesiastical time stood still for three years: Pasfield had not been dismissed from Chelmsford, neither had he agreed to resign. The bishop put a curate in place to do the rector's work, and Michaelson could only wait to collect his prize.[197]
He took his first step when the curate moved on in 1620: after several months of delay, the pushy Scot was named as his successor, although still officially acting on behalf of the absent Pasfield. However, Michaelson still had influence at court, becoming an honorary chaplain to James I in 1623, no doubt because the king liked to hear the occasional sermon in a familiar accent. That year, Pasfield was finally detached from Chelmsford, and Michaelson was formally instituted as the new rector. Comprehensively out-manoeuvred by a man he regarded as an upstart, Sir Thomas Mildmay was implacably furious, and reportedly pursued legal avenues to re-assert his rights in moves that cannot now be traced. In 1624, the new rector attempted a counter-attack, attempting to prosecute his most prominent parishioner for failing to attend church. When Thomas III and Ann did attend worship in Chelmsford, they ostentatiously refused to receive communion at the hands of the interloper, even at Easter, the climax of the Christian year. Revealingly, Michaelson also claimed that on twenty Sundays the couple had not appeared at all. The Scottish cleric's relationship to the concept of truth was at best oblique: it is highly unlikely that so prominent a figure, a baronet at the pinnacle of the social pyramid, would have totally neglected his duty to attend church. It seems likely that the Mildmays had escaped the unpleasant atmosphere of the county town to take refuge at their second home in Terling, attending church there. Of course, this can only be a guess – although, surely, a plausible one – because Thomas III contemptuously refused to respond to the specific accusations. In June 1624, he persuaded the ecclesiastical court to dismiss the allegations against him on the technical grounds that they had not been preferred by the churchwardens, who alone had the right (and the duty) to prosecute backsliders. Given the Mildmay control over the town, it was unlikely that this would ever happen. Thomas III added for good measure that "the minister" (note the neutral term) was his personal enemy.[198]

Thus the hypothesis that Thomas III was the driving force behind the 1617-20 climax of the campaign to clean up Terling can be underpinned by plausible start and finish dates. His marriage in 1617 to Ann Savile, at a time when ecclesiastical politics in Chelmsford were fraught, prompted a determination – maybe his, more likely hers – to purge the community on their doorstep of anti-social behaviour. The crack-down ended, apparently suddenly, in 1620, when John Michaelson jammed his foot still further inside Chelmsford's parish church, and Thomas III turned his legal activities towards resisting the ambitious Scotsman. If the second date may seem less persuasive than the first, it might equally be the case that the Mildmays had by then made their point about the kind of conduct they would not countenance. It is noteworthy that the emphasis during 1620 was upon prosecutions launched in the ecclesiastical courts – no fewer than 22 of them, a remarkable number in a parish of perhaps 300 adults.[199] Although the church courts were something of a paper tiger when it came to imposing punishments, they were notorious for exacting fees from those unlucky enough to be dragged before them: any craftsman or labourer who was forced to attend would also lose a day's income – although many accused took a chance and failed to appear.[200] Hence the blizzard of cases in 1620 may have successfully conveyed the message that when the Mildmays were in residence, it made sense to tiptoe home from the alehouse in silence rather than risk the expense and inconvenience of malicious prosecution for raucous celebration.

The Terling petition of 1620  Yet there is one major piece of evidence that seems to run counter to the claim that Thomas III and Ann (Savile) Mildmay orchestrated the judicial reign of nuisance designed to impose a new standard of conduct upon the people of Terling. This is the petition of the parish officers in 1620 that painted a grim picture of the parish and bluntly lectured the king's assize judges on the duty of magistrates to chastise the wicked. Between 1617 and 1619, parish officials had launched eighteen cases against Terling residents in the county courts. It may be that secular magistrates had become disenchanted with their diligence, because in 1620 the campaign switched to the ecclesiastical courts, with a remarkable 22 prosecutions.[201] Whoever was behind the drive to clean up Terling might well have felt aggrieved, and ready to censure the justices of the peace for failing in their duty – and this probably explains the angry protest to the assize judges. In many respects, the petition is a key document – perhaps even the central piece of evidence – for a major argument advanced in PPEV, since it briefly enables us to hear the voices of the respectable residents of Terling, not merely bemoaning the condition of their own community, but boldly articulating a challenging political theory about the responsibilities of those who ruled over them. It is therefore disappointing that Wrightson and Levine seem to have said very little about the petition. We are not even given the names of signatories, although the context points to a small group of yeomen around Augustine Norrell and Richard Tabor. A few hard-hitting sentences are quoted. Thanks to its alehouse problem, Terling had "gotten to itself an evil report amongst other places", notorious for abuses "shameful to be spoken of … the name of god is dishonoured, idlenes maintained and our parishe of itself poor enough is impoverished and decayed". This sense of generalised outrage apparently culminated in the blunt injunction to the judges to do their duty and punish the wrong-doers.[202] These are striking sentiments, but they provoke some probing questions.

Perhaps the most obvious doubts concern the confident and almost literary style of the document. While these ringing phrases may represent the thinking of the petitioners, it is unlikely that they embody the words Terling people used in daily life. The extracts are expressed in a sophisticated form of English, penned in what passed for mainstream spelling in the wayward age of Shakespeare. They are a long way from the creative orthography and dialect rhythm of Matthew Warren's report of 1630, assuring the justices that there had been no "quarrilles affrays or bludsheded" in Terling, that the parish lacked "soweres [of] sedechon between naybores" and that consequently, "noo penallties have bin levid or be stowed on the pore".[203] Perhaps Augustine Norrell[204] and his allies used the services of an educated neighbour, a schoolmaster or somebody like Edmund Halys, the gentleman-scribe of Witham, who wrote out the wills of townsfolk, providing them with boiler-plate statements of religious belief at various levels of intensity. Thomas Rust, the vicar of Terling, was a possible amanuensis: he penned the wills of many of his parishioners.[205] Approved of by Puritan activists because he delivered sermons, he could hardly have avoided speaking from the pulpit about the three-year wave of prosecutions among parishioners, many of whom no doubt grumbled at the persecution of their peccadilloes. A preacher needed a text, and Rust might well have turned to the thirteenth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, in which St Paul declared that "the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God". The ruler "beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."[206] It is not difficult to regard these verses as the origin of the Terling petition's homily "'that the magistrate beareth not the sword for naught, but is ordained by God to take punishment on them that do evil".[207] Perhaps the petition's complaint that the inebriates of Terling dishonoured "the name of god" spoke not of a rising tide of Puritan feeling but of the conventional, if deeply felt, concerns of a conscientious vicar?

Yet we should also consider the possibility that the petition was the work of Sir Thomas Mildmay himself. Thomas III had studied at Cambridge (although he probably did not graduate), and spent some time at the Inns of Court, presumably acquiring a basic legal education. Even if he was not an assiduous Bible reader, he would have encountered the language of magistrates, swords and evil-doers. The thirteenth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans was read in churches annually on the fourth Sunday after Epiphany, around the beginning of February, making it sufficiently familiar to explain the loose allusion of the petition. It also formed part of prayers read on various special occasions.[208] Perhaps, as Wrightson later argued, we hear in its defiant message to the judges the "audacity" of a group of Puritan farmers.[209] Equally, its fluency may suggest a contemptuous put-down emanating from Sir Thomas Mildmay himself, a massively wealthy baronet of honourable lineage, but alienated from the local elite of magistrates who administered the affairs of the county. Wrightson and Levine stress that this was a petition to the judges, but it complained about a subject – alehouses – that was regulated by the justices of the peace, Mildmay's fellow gentry, and it specifically referred to their duty as magistrates. This gives it the air of a disgruntled renegade engaging in the classic response to his marginalisation by censoriously appealing to some higher power. The more active justices of the peace attended the assizes, where they would have been forced to sit and seethe through the recitation of this attack on their diligence. Furthermore, there is an important and potentially revealing point about the provenance of the petition. It did not come from any official source, and apparently does not survive in the Essex Record Office at Chelmsford – although, admittedly, records of the assize courts are patchy for that period. It was supplied to Wrightson and Levine by the Honourable Charles Strutt, the family historian of Terling Place.[210] If, as seems likely, the petition comes from the archives of Terling Place, which would have inherited documents filed by previous owners, including the Mildmays, then the possibility that Thomas III was its author is considerably strengthened.[211]

Although not listing the actual signatories, Wrightson and Levine do comment upon the one parish officer whose name was absent from the petition.[212] Careful reconstruction of local records enabled them to identify the yeoman farmer George Cannon as a man with broad local ties of kinship and friendship, someone who went through the motions of holding local office while avoiding confrontational allegations that might cause animosity in the community.[213] This pleasant and plausible glimpse of a cautious individual might have been deepened had Terling been considered not merely as a village but in terms of its wider community as a parish. George Cannon rented his land from the manor of Ringers Fee, the ancient farm located a mile south-west of the village. I have not identified the location of the four 'parcels' that he held, but it is likely that he operated on the western side of the parish, where he might have felt detached from problems of disorder in the village. More to the point, Sir Thomas Mildmay was not his landlord.[214]

A plausible objection to the hypothesis that Thomas III and his new bride were behind the intensive burst of prosecutions for anti-social behaviour would challenge the assumption that they could control the actions of the parish officers. We should not forget that 'yeoman' was a technical term that described a prosperous farmer, but the word is resonant with qualities of independence, and often linked to the adjective 'stout'. Perhaps lurking in the background is Cromwell's declaration in 1643 that he would prefer to fight alongside "a plain, russet-coated Captain, that knows what he fights for, and loves what he knows" rather than some effete gentleman: it is temptingly easy to imagine Terling's bold yeomen of 1620 as forerunners of the stalwart pikemen of the New Model Army.[215] Hence, relegating them to the role of mouthpiece for a landowner may seem somehow demeaning. Yet, in 1623, Terling's representatives seem to have acted in just that way. For several years, in fact since the 1617-20 campaign against anti-social behaviour had apparently burned itself out, jurors from the parish had referred few if any problems to the magistrates. Then, at the Easter sessions that year, they reported three alleged cases of poaching. The episode is curious since the evidence in each instance was suggestive rather than conclusive, and no prosecutions seem to have ensued. A supper party had enjoyed a suspiciously meaty feast, a reminder of just how Spartan was the labourer's diet in Stuart times. A local man boasted that he would not sell his dog for forty shillings: either he was a pet lover, or the hound was useful for illicit hunting. Yet another local had been spotted early one morning with muddy stockings, surely not an unusual mishap in rural Essex. It is hard to see why any of this should bother the busy farmers who usually represented Terling at court sessions. However, poaching would certainly have been an issue for Thomas III. The Mildmays had a park at Terling, and in the fifteen-nineties its deer herd was three times targeted by poachers, on one occasion an offender catching two fawns with a net, while the other two incursions involved the use of crossbows. These relatively sensational crimes may have been a result of the hard times at the end of the sixteenth century, for no further offences were brought before the local courts in the two decades that followed. But the problem with the park, from the point of view of Thomas III, was that it had been carved out of the fields on the west side of the river, making it difficult to supervise from the mansion.[216] The suspicions aroused by the proud dog-lover may suggest that, around 1623, locals were breaking in to catch rabbits and hares, low-level criminality, but enough to enrage the frustrated landowner. As argued above, at about that time, the Mildmays were probably using Terling as a retreat from the fraught environment of Chelmsford. It seems reasonable to suggest that Thomas III prevailed upon the parish officers to name the suspects to the magistrates as a way of warning them that their activities had been noted. If so, then the jurors and the churchwardens may equally have been responding to pressure from above in launching the large-scale prosecutions, very likely inconvenient to them personally, of 1617-20.[217]

For any attempt to explain the Terling purity campaign of those years, one major challenge is to explain not why it started, but why it stopped. The hypothesis that points to Sir Thomas Mildmay can identify his second marriage in 1617 as the trigger to clean up the neighbourhood, and the intensification of his quarrel with John Michaelson as the element that diverted his attention elsewhere three years later. By contrast, it is much harder to explain why a "confrontational social impulse" aiming at the "re-drawing of the boundaries of permitted behaviour" should suddenly have gone so quiet.[218] Wrightson and Levine solve the problem by declaring that the Norrell faction had won (an assumption which, of course, could equally apply to the Mildmay hypothesis). "As the 1620s advanced, the victory of the innovators was consolidated. … A new tone had been established in parish government." The reformers were succeeded "by men who had learned their duties in the new school and who continued to prosecute offenders".[219] However, this is not the impression created by the documents calendared on EAO. Rather, the parish officers seem to have fallen suspiciously quiet. Had the sinners and the backsliders perhaps formed an opposition party and succeeded in choosing complaisant jurors and tolerant churchwardens? Augustine Norrell was evidently a sick man when he made his will in 1626, but a reformist impulse driven either by Puritanism or by a desire to repress the poor could hardly have depended upon the determination of one individual. Complaints were made against John Aldridge, Thomas Holman's successor at the Angel, on three occasions between 1625 and 1630. Surely here was a continuing target for those who had sought to impose a new code of conduct upon their community?

Particularly puzzling is the refusal in the winter of 1624-5 of Terling's representatives to take advantage of what seems to have been encouragement from above to tackle the problem of alehouses. This is all the more surprising since, in January 1623, they had bestirred themselves to ask the magistrates to suppress alehouses run by Thomas Maye and "uxor Heman". There is no subsequent reference to Goodwife Heman, but Thomas Maye stayed in business. At Midsummer 1624, jurors from Terling simply listed him, along with Robert Powell and William "Joames" (possibly Holmes), as locals who sold beer. However, an opportunity for action would soon arise, and Terling would fail to grasp it. Braintree's town council, the Four and Twenty, frequently discussed problems with drinking establishments at their monthly meetings, but their powers were limited and they could only appeal to the county courts for the suppression of undesirable hostelries. A resolution passed in December 1624 suggests that they were ready to respond to encouragement signalled by the magistrates to take action. "When the Justices come to towne all the Company shall take notice of the unlicensed alehouses and assist the officers to see them suppressed."[220] A few months earlier, Braintree's representatives had listed no fewer than fifteen beer-sellers, all male, and apparently operating without authorisation. It seems likely that the Four and Twenty undertook the agreed purge, because in January 1625, the town assured the justices that it had nothing to report at all. For Terling, a community described in PPEV as confrontationally dedicated to the imposition of a demanding code of social behaviour, here was surely an opportunity to get rid of Thomas Maye and clip the wings of the parish's other publicans. The jurors did their duty, once again listing Maye, Holmes and Powell as alehouse keepers, but at that point they fell strangely silent. They did not know, they could not say, whether Maye, Holmes and Powell were licensed or not. Two years earlier, there had been pressure to suppress Maye's enterprise altogether. Equally curious was the absence of any mention of the Angel, at about that time in transition from Terling's Publican-Enemy-Number-One, the turbulent Thomas Holman, to his occasionally unreliable step-son John Aldridge.

There was to be one further attempt to assert the principles of social discipline in Terling, and it is important because it revealed the reality of landlord control. William Holmes had been operating an alehouse for at least twenty years. Although named as a beer seller by the cautious jurymen of 1624-5, he seems never to have been the subject of specific complaint. Indeed, when an attempt was made in 1627 to close him down on grounds of "disorder which is in his house", he was found to have built up a fund of local goodwill. The complainant was not one of the men of 1617-20, but rather the Puritan vicar, Thomas Weld, who had only arrived in Terling in 1624. His initiative looks like a bid for clerical power, an attempt to create the kind of theocracy that, five years later, he would eagerly embrace as a refugee in New England. Thomas III had died in 1626, and his mansion had passed to another Mildmay, his nephew Robert, who was – for the first time – a permanent resident of the parish. Himself a Puritan, Robert Mildmay refused to pay the Forced Loan of 1627, and would become an active supporter of the parliamentary cause during the Civil War. But he was also a landlord who did not propose to have his community run by a clergyman, however aggressively godly Thomas Weld might be. In a rare direct squirearchical intervention in local affairs, he drafted a certificate in support of Holmes, stating that he was "a person of honest lyfe and conversacon", and adding that he was "fit to keep an Alehouse in respect that he is aged and cannot worke" – which meant that if deprived of his livelihood, he would become a burden on the ratepayers. Three of the five co-signatories can be identified, suggesting that Mildmay assembled support both from the village – where the butcher John Wilshere was a prominent resident – and from the wider parish, represented by George Cannon, who had stood aloof from the petitioners of 1620, and the husbandman Robert Gosse.[221] The result was predictable: landlord influence overcame clerical pretension, William Holmes continued in business. But perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the episode was not the outcome, but the means by which it was achieved. The decision in favour of William Holmes was taken, not by the full bench of magistrates, but by two of them, Sir Thomas Wiseman and William Towse, acting on their own initiative. Wiseman lived at Rivenhall Place, seven miles from Terling, and was said to have had an income of £3,000 a year.[222] Towse was not only a highly successful lawyer in London, but married to Dame Katherine Barnardiston, also enormously wealthy and the owner of Witham Place, the mansion that adjoined the nearby market town. Wiseman, who was rumoured to be a secret Catholic, became a royalist in the Civil War. Towse, like his wife Dame Katherine, was a fervent Puritan.[223] Wiseman and Towse handled much of the routine judicial business in the Witham area. What they had in common, and shared with Robert Wiseman, was their unstated assumption that it was the landowners who determined what happened at local level. Where the renegade Thomas III had been obliged to pressure and even hector the magistrates from the sidelines, Richard Mildmay could exercise control over his village simply by invoking the interlocking network of judicial authority and landlord power. Thanks to Thomas Weld's over-ambitious attempt at self-assertion, we have a rare glimpse of the real structure of control in Terling.

Ultimately, as with so many issues in seventeenth-century English history, the hypothesis that events in Terling between 1617 and 1620 were gentry-driven can only depend upon subjective interpretation of slight shreds of evidence. Two assumptions are offered here that point to the controlling hand of Sir Thomas Mildmay, Thomas III, and his recently acquired second wife, Ann. The first is that it would be remarkable indeed if the blizzard of prosecutions – forty cases in secular and ecclesiastical courts in a period of three years, rising massive disruption in a community of maybe three hundred adults – resulted entirely from the determined activities of a group of men who seem to have been middling farmers. It seems more plausible to assume that some powerful personality was driving challenges to the alleged misdeeds of so large a section of the local population. The second relates to the intriguing petition to the judges in 1620, of which we hear so tantalisingly little. While its blunt message about the duties of the magistrate reflected a well-known New Testament text, its confident style suggests the hand of an educated person, even though this would, of course, be compatible with the polished-up expression of views advanced more pungently by russet-coated, Puritan-minded farmers. The document apparently emerged from the archives of Terling Place, a further pointer to its origin from the hand and brain of Sir Thomas Mildmay.
Coupled with these two assumptions is the basic question: why did so vigorous a campaign apparently come to an abrupt end after 1620? Purity crusades do not usually fizzle out. While Thomas Holman's sink of iniquity, the Angel, remained in business, even occasionally causing some disruption in the village, the reformers could hardly be said to have imposed a wholly new standard of behaviour upon the people of Terling. Perhaps they were ousted from power, refused re-election to the annual offices that administered parish affairs. Maybe that explained why Terling's representatives ducked the issue of local alehouses – were they legal or not? – when an opportunity arose to take further action in 1624-5? Wrightson and Levine advance an attractive theory of an autonomous and determined local junta. This involves them in using vocabulary – such as "activists", "ruling group", "rise to power"[224] – that might reflect the politics of a contemporary New England community, but seem inappropriate, even anachronistic, when applied to an Essex parish in the reign of James I. A more nuanced picture might emerge if we speculate that here, as elsewhere in seventeenth-century Essex, gentry pulled the strings to exercise ultimate control.

The Terling thesis: an agenda for reconsideration In conclusion, seven areas may be suggested for a re-evaluation of the arguments advanced in PPEV, much of which, it may be confidently predicted, will enhance the work of Wrightson and Levine.

First, and perhaps most basic, there is a need to distinguish between the village and the wider parish. The statement that "[t]he villagers lived and worked in close proximity to one another" cannot be applied to every resident of Terling, nor is it necessarily the case that the offences reported to various courts all reflected "the petty dramas of village life".[225] The parish was spread over five square miles, and – especially given the long hours of labour – many of its inhabitants may have come into contact with other Terling people relatively infrequently.[226] Nor is it reasonable to apply the term "villager" to everyone who lived within the parish boundaries. Those toiling at its fringes may have had equally strong connections with neighbouring communities, especially where farms formed part of properties that stretched into adjoining parishes. Thus it is probably misleading to call George Cannon "a man of central importance in the village": his holding was a mile or so across the river, making him an active figure within the parish. C.A. Barton's random extracts from the Terling parish registers indicate that those who entered the births, marriages and deaths only occasionally identified people by residence – for instance, John Woodwarde of the Green in 1548, Richard Franke of "Tearlinge Hall" in 1557, John Hare of Scarletts in 1574 – but his coverage was incomplete and more information can probably be extracted. Wills often provide useful clues about where testators lived, although, disappointingly, some of course simply bequeathed their property without identifying it, and others may have referred to farms owned but not occupied. However, there are 66 wills available through the subscription service of EAO between 1600 and 1640 alone, and they usually specify an occupation – blacksmith, miller, shoemaker, schoolmaster, tailor, wheelwright, although it would be unsafe to assume that of these pursuits necessarily required premises in the village.[227]

Second, having disaggregated the village from the wider parish, the historian's task is to see how far they can be reintegrated: was there a symbiotic relationship between the two, with the village providing services and the wider parish supplying the customer base? To what extent were Wrightson and Levine correct in stating that "Terling had its own identity as a social unit"? There was an obligation upon everybody to attend church, although it did not apply to children, to those caring for them and to servants needed to cook the Sunday meal. Occasionally, parishioners clashed at service time: in 1600 Elizabeth Belsted, wife of a blacksmith, accused Grace Payne, a labourer's daughter, of stealing gloves, apron and a handkerchief. The alleged haul suggests that Elizabeth had employed Grace to do housework. She chose the parish church to make her charges public – for which she was prosecuted for "brabbling" – but that was merely a dramatic location, not a meeting place that gave rise to conflict.[228] The clash between beleaguered innkeeper Thomas Holman and his persecutors on Christmas Day 1607 was no more than a continuation of an angry feud that happened to erupt in church, although even the censorious Augustine Norrell conceded that the incident happened before the solemn climax of Holy Communion. Similarly, the fight between two men in 1614, in which they "shed bloud in the Churchyeard" – they were probably labourers since they do not seem to feature in other records – was probably the culmination of an existing quarrel. In this case, the antagonists reported that they were "agreed and satisfied", and the case was dismissed.

Naturally, court records memorialise confrontations, and these were relatively rare. They tell us nothing about the role of those Sunday gatherings in facilitating business deals – such as, so we might imagine, the parishioner from Flacks Green tracking down a village-based tiler and asking him to fix the roof – or sparking romances, although the separation of the sexes inside the church would have relegated courtship to churchyard dalliance after the service. Equally, available archives are likely to tell little about the role of Terling's village green in the wider community: presumably the medieval fair still took place in Tudor times.[229] Terling's watermill was located a few hundred yards west of the village and roughly at the centre of the parish, but little seems to be known about it. At least one miller, Richard Gaymer, who died in 1613, was a person of some substance, who also farmed within the parish.[230] But, in the absence of account books, it is impossible to say how many of his neighbours used him to grind their grain. A charge against a subsequent miller, in 1697, of assault against a Great Leighs man suggests that the mill might have drawn customers from a wider area. But Witham also had substantial watermills, located on the river Brain (the name was another, and later, back formation), and some Terling farmers perhaps found it more convenient to convert their grain to flour close to market. The Strutt family's astronomical fortune similarly had its origins around 1700 in their operation of Moulsham Mill, serving Chelmsford, and later Beeleigh Mill, near Maldon.

The parish unit certainly had a reality to the denizens of Wrightson and Levine's Category II, for they were the men who had to undertake the offices: it would be useful to test the hypothesis tentatively advanced here that prosperous villagers tended to serve as churchwardens, while farmers were more likely to accept the responsibility of reporting to the local courts – an efficient distribution of duties between those who lived on the doorstep of the church and those who had cause to make frequent visits to the more distant market towns. This, in turn, might help us to determine whether describing those who held office as a local "ruling group" represents the artificial imposition of a collective identity upon men who were simply prominent residents compelled to take their turns in haphazard acceptance of burdensome responsibilities. It is unfortunate that no information survives before 1770 of the annual ceremony of beating the bounds. Was it an inclusive ritual that took even the most sedentary villager to Terling's muddy outer limits, or had it already degenerated into an exercise that merely concerned the vicar and a handful of property owners? Could it be that the parish unit was more obvious to the yeoman or craftsman who bore the burden of local offices than to the husbandman and labourer who simply accepted that there were people in authority over him? Yet, at the lower end of the social spectrum, the poor would also have been aware of the parish as an institution that provided financial aid in hard times, and occasionally acted collectively to control even the most intimate human behaviour, as was encountered by a labourer and his partner, whose wish to marry was collectively vetoed by his more respectable neighbours in 1617.[231]

Third, the concept of a social area needs to be reconsidered through an explicit recognition of the fact that Terling was not a village, an island in an archipelago, but a parish, a patch in a quilt. One of the strongest areas of the Wrightson and Levine research should gain a new dimension through reinterpreting the evidence in terms of a community that, in economic and social terms, merged into a wider landscape of the farms and villages, hamlets and towns of mid-Essex. It is suggested that a survey of marriage registers from nearby parishes may identify other Terling residents who married outsiders, in addition to the 72 tabulated in PPEV who imported their partners and exchanged their vows at the local church.[232] Even though some communities have only incomplete records, and recognising too that some parish clerks found entering names a sufficient challenge to their literacy, it should be possible to hazard an estimate of the percentage of Terling who defined their personal social area through perhaps the most important decision they ever took, the choice of a partner for life. Wrightson and Levine report that 290 people married in Terling between 1550 and 1724, which currently indicates that approximately one resident in four found a partner outside the parish.[233] If the 39 registers that I have identified as available through the subscription service of EAO were to reveal a further seventy-odd Terling people who married elsewhere, the overall proportion would increase to around two-fifths. A fraction of that order would massively undermine any notion of Terling as an enclosed society. The overall numbers would also justify some tentative conclusions in relation to gender and class: were men more likely than women to marry outsiders, did the wealthy have more opportunity for courtship at a distance than the poor?

The mobility of individuals within a wider area should also be integrated with the hierarchies of function associated with entire communities. While it is both possible and revealing to focus primarily upon Terling as a distinct community, it may also be fruitful to examine its role within the social area from the point of view of those living just across its boundary, notably the people of Fairstead, who had no village centre, few if any craftsmen to provide services and –however remarkable it may seem – no alehouses in which to relax. The two parishes had separate administrative structures – although that of Fairstead has left almost no trace in the archives – but it seems reasonable to assume that, for the purposes of daily life, they were closely entwined. Individual mobility might also be considered against the background of agricultural practices in mid-Essex. It was a zone of mixed farming, with an emphasis upon the production of wheat, especially (it seems) after 1570 – which perhaps conjures a static picture of labourers who devoted decades to tending the same few fields.[234] However, herdsmen and shepherds may have been more mobile, and perhaps over a wider area, than we appreciate:[235] cattle and sheep were fattened on marshland pastures and driven to local markets for onward transit to London.[236] It may also be useful to ask whether relationships within the surrounding rural community were qualitatively different from those which existed, at a slightly longer range, with the market towns. Wrightson and Levine's table of contacts by category found that 82.5 percent of recognisances tendered by Terling people for their good behaviour called upon supporters from within a nine-mile radius. The figure for marriage partners was 80.5 percent, for recognised kin, 67.7 percent. However, only 53.9 percent of debt and credit relationships were conducted with people living within nine miles, which may suggest some degree of economic dependence upon distant urban communities.[237] Beyond the Essex towns, we should not forget the foreboding proximity of London, even though it may appear relatively rarely in the written record. The Carriers Cosmographie of 1637 noted a weekly wagon service to and from "Wittham in Essex", while other carriers, from Braintree, Chelmsford, Coggeshall and Colchester also passed close to Terling.[238]

Fourth, there is a need to focus upon the village of Terling as it existed around 1620. I hope that the schematic plan that accompanies this essay may represent a step towards a more complete reconstruction, for skilled cartography can certainly glean more details from the 1597 map. Hilda Grieve and Janet Gyford have demonstrated how the occupation of individual tenements can be traced through manorial court rolls, and Alan Macfarlane produced a similarly detailed map of Earls Colne, a village (and parish) of similar size. Although divided landownership may make this a challenge in Terling, it would be useful to classify inhabitants as either villagers or denizens of the wider parish, for instance to test the hypothesis that the enforcement campaign of 1617-20 was primarily directed against disruptive neighbours of Thomas III and Ann (Savile) Mildmay.[239] Even if it should prove impossible to reconstruct the seventeenth-century village of Terling in minute detail, enough can be extracted from the schematic plan to emphasise the importance of the Angel, the inn which appears in PPEV as a disorderly alehouse, and the Mildmay mansion, which is not discussed at all. Recognising the existence of the Aldridge/Holman hospitality business, and right at the heart of the village, helps distinguish between alehouse prosecutions that aimed to eliminate cottage speakeasies, and the use of legal process to regulate the village inn.[240] The attempt to close the premises – or, at least, to oust the proprietor Thomas Holman – divided the community between 1604 and 1610, and the campaign's failure probably  explained why complaints were never pressed so far again. The puzzling absence of the mansion from the Wrightson and Levine interpretation of Terling leaves a notable gap in their analysis. A high brick churchyard wall provided privacy in the grounds, but Tudor brickwork offered only modest protection from the noise and occasional disorder that we may assume emanated from the nearby Angel in its livelier sessions. Indeed, no big house in those times could entirely isolate itself from its local population. Droves of servants were needed to maintain any gentry household, and humble neighbours supplied goods and services, even if they were segregated from the lord of the manor and his family. If Thomas II or Thomas III had wished to make any excursion to the north or west of Terling, they would have needed to travel through the village. It would of course be possible to run the gauntlet of the hovels and the middens behind the curtains of a coach, but such was not the practice of a Mildmay cousin, Sir Humphrey of Danbury Place. His diary shows that he not only enjoyed "walking the fields and woods so wide" of his estate, but also took afternoon strolls through Danbury village, chatting to tenants and keeping in touch with parish concerns.[241]

Reinstating the Mildmay mansion into the Terling story leads to the fifth item on the revisionist agenda, the need to re-examine the available evidence to assess the extent of gentry involvement in social control measures. In what has become one of the central tenets of the Terling thesis, Wrightson and Levine argue that, from 1608, Terling experienced a campaign against perceived anti-social activities, spurred by a wholly new determination to eradicate behaviour that had previously been tolerated. The hypothesis offered here is that the increase in formal prosecutions probably reflects the replacement of Thomas II, a justice of the peace and hard-working member of the county's administrative elite, by Thomas III, who was neither. Lacking the magistrate's power to deal informally with minor misdemeanours, whether driven by alcoholic indulgence or sexual desire, Thomas III was compelled to enlist co-operative village officers, some of them perhaps his own tenants, and to use the official machinery of the courts, civil and ecclesiastical, to impose order in his immediate neighbourhood. Here, of course, we face a central dilemma in historical method. Historians work from documents, but we know that our sources may not always reveal the whole story, let alone provide the basis for a complete explanation.[242] On the one hand, we must keep in mind the possibility that other influences were at work, that while complaints to the justices may have been voiced by small farmers like Augustine Norrell, they were simply acting as the mouthpiece for an indignant landlord – as was surely the case with the presentments for poaching in 1623. Yet equally, we have to resist the temptation to infuse the documentary record with elements of our own choice that may never have been there. Central to this dilemma in Terling between 1563 and 1626 is the challenge that the three Thomas Mildmays who owned the principal manor were primarily resident at Moulsham Hall in Chelmsford. As argued above, enough evidence can be trawled from Barton's parish register extracts and stray survivals of magistrates' business in EAO to suggest that Thomas II had a reasonably close relationship with Terling. The archival record is necessarily thinner for Thomas III, landlord in those crucial years from 1608 to 1626, since he was neither a justice of the peace, nor did he baptise any children. Yet there is a sense in which the search for the influence of resident or transient gentry is irrelevant. A property so imposing as the Mildmay mansion would have required an estate manager, to supervise the associated farms and maintain at least a skeleton staff in the hall itself, ready for occasional visits from the owner's family. It would have been the responsibility of such a steward to keep his master informed of local developments, including the transgressions of the disruptive. It is certainly true that Thomas II and Thomas III principally lived at Chelmsford, but Moulsham Hall was only nine miles away – even if technically they were absentee landlords, they were hardly distant. Essentially, viewing Terling through the prism of an assumption of ultimate landlord control seems more faithful to the reality of power in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Essex. By contrast, Wrightson and Levine's dismissal of gentry involvement creates a potentially misleading portrait of a self-governing community, sustained by anachronistic vocabulary that talks of activists who took power – perhaps suitable to the internal affairs of a Puritan settlement in New England, but hardly appropriate to Essex in the reign of James I.[243]

This, in turn, leads to a sixth and highly specific item on the agenda for re-evaluating PPEV. Insofar as the Terling thesis postulates control of the parish in the early seventeenth century by an articulate and assertive group of yeomen farmers, influenced by Puritan ideas and determined to control the turbulent poor, it rests to a substantial extent upon the 1620 petition in which they had the "audacity" to lecture the king's judges on the duties of magistrates. Yet, beyond the quotation of a few sentences, we learn very little about this document. If it is extant and permission can be secured for publication, it would be useful to know more about the text, the signatories and the provenance. After all, 1620 is a date with some resonance in world history, the year in which an emigrant group transported across the Atlantic the germ of assertive self-government that would become one of the founding elements of the United States of America. If Terling was really the home of a group of crypto-Pilgrim Fathers who had decided not to board the Mayflower, the petition would have an obviously important place in the evolution of British political thought. 

Once the content and context of the 1620 petition have been more closely explored, it should become possible to place its assumptions in some comparative framework. At about the same time, in May 1619, Braintree's Four and Twenty were similarly critical of the county magistrates, resolving that "Christopher Harwood and Richard Heward shalbe suppressed from victualing, although they have gotten licences, the same being obteyned contrary to the liking and allowance of the cheife of the towne in generall". James Sparhawk, a wealthy clothier, was deputed to attend the next quarter sessions, along with a churchwarden and a constable, to register their objections. However, there is no record of the matter being raised at the Midsummer quarter sessions – maybe Sparhawk had second thoughts about the wisdom of confrontation over an implied theory of government, perhaps the justices did not care to be lectured by townsmen. In October 1620, Christopher Harwood was still operating illegally. The Four and Twenty resolved to prosecute him (and other offenders) at the next quarter sessions "and all those brewers that layd them in beere". Braintree's influential residents were undoubtedly angry and determined, but they pursued a concrete grievance: there is no evidence that they delivered any imposing declaration of principles.[244] A similar issue arose in Witham in 1630, where the wealthy Puritan farmer (and self-styled gentleman) Jerome Garrard complained that disorderly alehouses in the town had been "licensed without the consent of the officers and chief inhabitants". This may simply have stemmed from some local squabble between Garrard and Witham's resident justice of the peace, William Towse, himself a Puritan and the husband of Dame Katherine Barnardiston, the parish's other major landowner.[245] In both the Braintree and Witham episodes, it would be of interest to know what kind of political theory was assumed or articulated by the protesters when they confronted the magistrates in court: any argument that local decision-making should be entirely devolved to the principal residents of each community would of course have been flatly rejected.

The aggressive demeanour apparently manifested by the spokesmen of Terling in 1620 is in sharp contrast with the deferential attitude that permeates a similar petition, in 1629, from Stock, a village six miles south of Chelmsford. The parishes of Stock and Buttsbury were intertwined: Buttsbury had no discernible settlement of any kind. The two parishes had a combined area and population about one quarter larger than those of Terling. However, unlike Terling, which was located away from major highways, the village of Stock stretched alongside a major road leading south from the county town, which explains the petitioners' concern that "idle felowes of other parishes" were wasting their lives in local hostelries. The push to close alehouses came from the two clergy, William Pindar of Stock and Edward Thorpe of Buttsbury, backed by a handful of parish officers and worthies. Both ministers might be described as Puritan fellow-travellers, but probably not outright religious radicals: Pindar would later become an active royalist, and undoubtedly suffered for his apostasy.[246] There is no reason to suppose that the two men were motivated by any crusading imperative to impose godly standards upon their parishioners, nor did they employ any such language. It is more likely, as they insisted in their petition, that they sought to limit the ill effects of alcoholic over-indulgence. They explained that "in our little street, beinge part Stocke parish, parte Butsbury, there are two pety Innes, viz: The Cocke and the Swan, and fyve or six typling howses and all these of little use and but [sic] to breed drunkards, beinge made dayly styes for such swyne". They echoed Terling complaints that the less respectable operations permitted "yea poore men and mens sonnes and servants to contynue drinking in their howses". On "mature deliberacion" (a very modern-sounding phrase), they concluded that the two inns were "sufficient for o[u]r said street and the two parishes aforesaid", and that the rest should be suppressed, with their proprietors "disabled from vytaylinge or typlinge for three years after".

Thus far, Stock in 1629 sounds very like Terling in 1620, a section of the local elite pressing the magistrates for direct and highly specific action against specific targets. But the tone adopted by Pindar and Thorpe was very different. They took care to demonstrate deference to the magistrates both individually and collectively, carefully addressing their petition to "the right honourable right worshipfull and other his maj[es]ties Justices, assembled at Chelmsford". While they went out of their way to stress that "most excellent lawes have of late beene made for the suppressing of that most loathsome synne of drunkenness", they most certainly did not lecture the magistrates on their duty of enforcement. Rather, they blamed "the slackness of inferior officers and other inhabitantes of parishes (where these evils abound) to informe the magistrates of the delinquents". It was almost as if the local elite of Stock and Buttsbury had been warned not to repeat the hectoring tone used nine years earlier by Terling.[247]

The Stock petition merits comparison with what we know of its Terling forerunner in other respects as well. It was almost certainly drawn up by its two leading signatories, Pindar and Thorpe. Both were Cambridge graduates, yet their document was anything but formal in tone, for instance concluding with the naive sentiment: "No more but the Lord blesse you and ye worthy proceedings." This was in marked contrast to the smoothly censorious language from Terling, and surely adds to the possibility that the 1620 petition was the work of somebody with the education of Sir Thomas Mildmay, the marginalised Thomas III. At first sight, the Pindar-Thorpe attempt to close alehouses would seem to evoke Thomas Weld's attack on William Holmes two years earlier, a clerical initiative that was comfortably vetoed by intervention from the big house. However, closely examined, the plea from Stock quietly reflected landlord acquiescence. There was no single proprietor of the various manors of Stock and Buttsbury, but the Petre family – dominant in nearby Ingatestone – owned a large slice of local property – including, so documents in EAO indicate, both the Cock and the Swan. The implication seems to be that in Stock, as in Terling, critics of the drink trade accepted the need to regulate the larger establishments and eliminate the smaller outlets – but without challenging the economic interests of a local power-broker. However, of the tippling houses that they wished to close – listed on the back of the petition – only that of John Batte, described the previous year as a tailor, seems to have fitted the standard image of the cottage shebeen. At least one of the targeted alehouses had been in operation since 1620,[248] the continuity suggesting a moderately respectable business. "William" Newman seems to have been an error for Charles Newman, described as an innholder in 1619, the style he claimed when he made his will in 1640: did he find himself on the target list because he was not a Petre tenant? An annotation to the petition recorded that the magistrates agreed to the suppression of all the hostelries, except the two inns. Unfortunately for the campaigners, this blanket victory did not amount to much in practice. The Newman family inn remained in business, and two of the officially abolished alehouses – including that of John Batt[e], the humble tailor – were prosecuted for disorder in 1630.[249] The parish worthies of Stock and Buttsbury had politely charmed the magistrates, but they do not seem to have achieved much more than the Terling parish officers had gained from their blustering assertion.

The seventh, and final, challenge in the re-evaluation of Wrightson and Levine must be to integrate Terling within the broader contexts of space and time. There is, of course, a Catch-22 about the geographical framework. The great strength of PPEV is its focus upon a single community, permitting the reconstruction of parish networks that might indeed be more illuminating on a wider basis, but would probably be impossible to achieve. All the same, a study of the rise of Puritanism in Terling can hardly be complete if it does not take account of Thomas Hooker's Chelmsford, or of radical Braintree, which supplied migrants to New England as early as 1632. In 1979, when Wrightson and Levine published PPEV, there were virtually no academic studies of the area around Terling to which their findings could be usefully related. Over four decades later, a re-evaluation of their work can relate it to parallel experiences in the surrounding market towns and seek clues for the exploration of key themes through EAO.

Much of the analysis offered in PPEV, especially on themes such as crime and the imposition of social discipline, could be deepened by relating the narrative more closely to national events, which may tend to demonstrate that concern for control of the poor was sharpest in phases of crisis.[250] Wrightson and Levine relate a series of thefts between 1597 and 1603 to the disastrous harvests of the fifteen-nineties,[251] but it is equally possible that the recurrence of offences into the new century might be explained by the revival of hostilities in the long war against Spain, and the need to send men and money in support of English control in Ireland. The circulation to parish constables in 1630 of a comprehensive questionnaire – one that elicited a splendidly stone-walling reply from Terling – is explained as "the tightening of administrative control in a year of harvest failure that had witnessed outbreaks of rioting",[252]  but this may not tell the whole story. The renewal of war against Spain in 1624 closed the export market for the Essex cloth-manufacturing towns: as early as January 1625, the Four and Twenty responded to an influx of "idle and disorderly persons" into Braintree by establishing a house of correction (in plain English, a gaol) as "a very good means to keep them in the better order".[253] Distress steadily increased through the years that followed. In April 1629, Essex magistrates attempted to negotiate with representatives of unemployed weavers in Braintree and Bocking, but they pessimistically concluded that "our perswasions to settle in quiett and order could not prevaile longe unlesse some thinge should bee acted which may remove the true cause of theire complainte". Specifically, a month later, they advised the Privy Council "that wee cannot possibly hope for any quiett amongst the poore people of our country unless some [of] our bayes [manufactured cloths] bee speedily bought up". With the protesters predicting that "aboute 30,000 persons were like to pertake of the miserie and poverty", the Privy Council's suggestion that rural parishes should find employment for the urban poor was quickly dismissed by the magistrates as a non-starter. After an examination of "the abilities of those parishes within the hundreds where the clothworkers dwell, wee find all so equally interessed in that trade as that wee do not know not any one parish within those hundreds which are able to sett their owne poore on worke". It was against this background of mass unemployment and desperate poverty that Essex was forced to raise taxes, provide supplies and manpower for armies, while simultaneously enduring the depredations of royal officials and unruly soldiery. In March 1630, the grand jury complained that although "our countrie [i.e. Essex] these late yeares is much impoverished and decayed", it had been subjected to burdens that "surmount the charge of any other countie or shire within his Majestys realms proportionable".[254] Five years of war had caused major economic and social dislocation across Essex: much more than a poor harvest lay behind the concerns of 1630.[255] Much the same might be said of Wrightson and Levine's comment that the "county-wide purge of alehouses" in 1644 was "instigated at the suggestion of the Puritan ministers of Essex".[256] A clerical campaign against alcohol may well have been the trigger for a crackdown on the consumption of alcohol, but it can hardly have been the chief driving force for social control in the third year of the English Civil War.

Final reflections Poverty and Piety in an English Village will remain a landmark study in English history. On subjects such as kinship, literacy, marriage patterns, bridal pregnancy and ex-nuptial births, the research of Wrightson and Levine will surely have permanent value. It should also be recognised that the principal form of reconsideration proposed in this essay, the distinction between Terling village and Terling parish, may be difficult to attain with the same degree of accuracy that the authors achieved in their demographic reconstruction of the overall community. Wills and parish registers may yield clues that can identify the residences of farmers and craftsmen, but ever-mobile labourers may prove harder to pin down. A locational map with the detail crafted by Alan Macfarlane in his re-creation of mid-seventeenth century Earls Colne would require access to detailed court rolls, and it seems that manorial institutions were weak in Terling, and the parish belonged to no single landowner. In any case, it might well be that social discipline was enforced upon the poor uniformly across the parish, meaning that alehouse-haunting caused as much outrage among the respectable and the godly when committed by husbandmen at Flacks Green or on the road to Fairstead as it did among the servants and labourers of the village street. Nonetheless, a breakdown of the internal distribution of Terling people would test the hypothesis that the 1617-20 campaign for the reformation of manners was primarily an attempt by the big house to clean up the village on its doorstep.

This essay argues that the inhabitants of the parish experienced Terling in very different ways. The farmers who lived around at Ridley Hall in the north of the parish, at Porridge Pot and Scarletts across the Ter, or over a mile from the village, at Terling Hall, on the boundary with Hatfield Peverel, or at Great Farsley, alongside the road to Witham – all would have had their own perspectives and patterns of experience. They may well have found it more convenient to buy their meat and shoe their horses in nearby communities, trudging to Terling village once a week merely to attend church – sometimes among people they hardly knew – and participating in the life of the parish through paying rates, or sharing (and perhaps attempting to dodge) the burdens of local administrative offices. Identification with Terling would thus have existed alongside involvement in the more fluid social area defined by Wrightson and Levine. Sadly, in the absence of farm accounts or the precious asset of a diary, we can never know how the inhabitants dwelling on the fringes of the parish balanced their loyalty to Terling with the wider world of mid-Essex. Fortunately, additional sources are now available that have the potential to provide a deeper appreciation of the social area.  Currently, on the basis of the Terling parish register alone, we can say that around one-quarter of parishioners found marriage partners in other communities. That calculation relies upon the diligence of incumbents and parish clerks, entering names in laborious longhand at a table in the cold, stark vestry, no doubt often omitting detail that they were not required to record. As previously discussed, marriage registers are now available online from many nearby parishes: even a sample survey should give some indication of the frequency with which Terling people married elsewhere, strengthening the concept of a social area and, incidentally, widening the networks of kinship.

The configuration of the village offers further scope for the reconsideration of aspects of the Terling thesis. The schematic plan attempted as part of this project can certainly be improved by skilled cartography, for close study of the 1597 map, even through the available colour photograph, will reveal more detail and render a more accurate reconstruction of the size of holdings and distance between them. However, enough has re-emerged – for the first time in over four hundred years – to highlight buildings whose existence tends to qualify the findings of Wrightson and Levine. The Angel – located right in the middle of the village street – operated as an inn, owned by a vintner who provided services on a wholly different scale to the ale-sellers in their cottages.  Court records, which simply speak of alehouses, need to be interpreted as the pursuit of dual aims, at one level the regulation of a hospitality business too well established to be forced to close and, at the other, control and, where possible, elimination of small-scale enterprises that were liable through their very informality to become venue for drunkenness and disorder. The other structure that necessarily impinged on the life of the villagers (and, no doubt, across the parish as a whole) was the former mansion of the bishops of Norwich, from 1563 the property of the Mildmay family, one of the larger gentry houses in Essex, and unusual in lacking a protecting surround of parkland to segregate its occupants from the poor. In effect, Wrightson and Levine dismiss the first three Thomas Mildmays as non-residents and, by extension conclude that the family played no part in Terling affairs before 1626. However, with a principal residence at Moulsham Hall, the Mildmays were hardly absentee landlords in the sense that the term was used in nineteenth-century Ireland, and there are indications that they spent time at their second home from parish registers and court records. Even if their visits were infrequent, so large an establishment, plus farmland, would have required an estate manager, who would have reported regularly, and frequently, to his master. Wrightson and Levine interpret the upsurge in the number of parishioners brought before the courts from around 1608 as evidence that a new standard of behaviour was being imposed in Terling. The alternative hypothesis suggested here points rather to the death of the hard-working magistrate, Sir Thomas Mildmay II, and his succession by Thomas III, who was not a justice of the peace. Misdemeanours that were formerly probably dealt with on the personal authority of a key member of the county elite now had to be pursued through more through the more regular channels of the county courts. The authors attribute the peak in prosecutions of 1617-20, involving perhaps as many as one eighth of the adult population, to the rise to power of a group of farmers inspired by Puritan ideals and determined to impose a godly reformation of manners. The alternative hypothesis notes that this intensified campaign followed the remarriage of Thomas III – which we know to have been celebrated at Terling – coupled with the likelihood that confused and confrontational Church affairs at Chelmsford probably led him to spend more time at his country home, where he, and his new wife, would have sought to suppress any tendencies to disorder among the humble neighbours who lived so close to his mansion.  As with other suggestions proposed in this essay, it may never be possible to test the theory of Mildmay involvement: there was no reason for gentry control to leave the paper trails that constitute historical evidence. Equally, the explanation of what was going on in Terling need not be an either / or matter: perhaps a landlord compelled to use the formal judicial machinery to extirpate anti-social behaviour worked with farmer-tenants who shared his priorities. There can be little doubt that Terling still has much to tell us, yet we must face the stern truth that some of the answers will never be revealed. In this essay, I urge a reconsideration of the Terling thesis, and suggest some of the lines of enquiry that might be pursued – doubtless, others are also possible. At this point, all I can do is to wish every success to those who may seek to re-examine this fascinating community of four hundred years ago.

ENDNOTES This essay makes reference to a more general survey, "Terling Images: towards a reconsideration of the 'Terling thesis'": There is some overlap in the text of the two essays. Maps which appear in "Terling Images" are also reproduced here, but not photographs. I repeat my thanks to Bernard Cope for the excellence of their presentation. 

[1] Keith Wrightson and David Levine, Poverty and Piety in an English Village: Terling, 1525-1700 was published by Oxford University Press in 1979. I have used the 1995 edition which preserved the original text but added "Postscript: Terling Revisited" (186-220) by Wrightson alone. Thus "Wrightson and Levine" or "the authors" refer to the 1979 text, "Wrightson" to the 1995 appendix. The 1995 edition is cited as PPEV. Wrightson (PPEV, 186), states that the original text was completed in October 1977, and his reflective essay was written in 1993.

[2] PPEV, 1. The publisher's description is on the back cover the 1995 paperback edition. Wrightson (PPEV, 187, 198) accepts the term "Terling thesis", although it was not coined by the authors.

[3] PPEV, 79, 86, 99-100.

[4] PPEV, 197. This was certainly true at the lower levels of society. However, there are indications that some farming families, who tended to hold land over several generations, were related by marriage: around 1600, there was something of a Rochester-Shaa-Norrell  axis. But too much should not be made of such networks: close kinship did not prevent violent feuding among the Rochesters.

[5] It is striking that a similar study of migration into and out of nearby Great Waltham and High Easter between 1327 and 1389 produced an almost identical pattern, "dense within a dozen miles, much less so further out".  L.R. Poos, A Rural Society after the Black Death: Essex 1350-1525 (Cambridge, 1991), 162-4.

[6] PPEV, 76-8. Sexual partners in irregular relationships that led to illegitimate births were slightly more likely to originate within 5 miles of Terling. This may suggest that casual relationships were less likely to result in marriage, but it may also reflect the relatively small sample.

[7] PPEV, 74.

[8] E.g. the authors document the growth of literacy, suggesting that it was driven by both economic and religious concerns. PPEV, 15-17, 144-54.

[9] This estimate of Terling's population in 1671 may be compared with two statistics from the south Essex parish of Upminster, where a local census was carried out in 1695. This rare exercise, probably the work of the rector, pioneer scientist William Derham, counted 370 people. The first census, in 1801, returned 765. Terling's postulated population of 580 in 1671 had risen to 708 in 1801. The two parishes were almost identical in area, and both lay off major highways. However, Upminster, pleasantly located just 15 miles from London, attracted gentlefolk as residents, with a number of small mansions being built in the eighteenth century, enough to explain a doubling of the population. This would seem consistent with an increase of one fifth in Terling which, located nearly 40 miles from London, was less likely to attract such residents. (Victoria County of History of Essex, vii:

[10] PPEV, 44-7. This picture of "stabilization"(47) requires some comment. Overall, the population was very mobile. The proximity of London is intriguing: the capital's population is thought to have risen from around 200,000 in 1600 to 575,000 by 1700, and this despite high levels of mortality (Porter, London: a Social History, 157). Estimates of the net annual in-migration required to make good losses and increase the population range from 6,000 for 1520-1665 (Inwood, A History of London, 160-1) to 7,000 for an undefined period of the 17th century (Sheppard, A History of London, 128) and 8,000 (Wrigley, Past and Present, xxxvii, 1967, 46). Adopting the 8,000 figure for 1620-1700 would give an estimate of 640,000 in-migrants to London in that period. An arbitrary assumption that Essex provided 10 percent gives 64,000. Rounded down to a convenient 60,000, and divided by approximately 400 parishes, Terling would have shed 150 of its locally-born. An outflow of roughly two persons a year would be compatible with the Wrightson and Levine view of "stabilization". Essex may have provided a smaller proportion of new Londoners: the average distance travelled by in-migrants in the early seventeenth century was 160 kilometres (i.e. about 100 miles). However, this calculation comes from apprenticeship records which relate to (potentially) skilled workers. (J. Landers, Death and the Metropolis, 46: Landers also points out that in-migrants probably lacked immunity to the diseases that rampaged through London, and therefore may have been more likely to die in epidemics). Unskilled labour was perhaps drawn from within a smaller radius. The case of Robert and Mary Johnson of Terling, examined by magistrates in 1607, throws rare light on population mobility and the draw of London. He was a labourer, who had previously lived at Upminster in south Essex. There he had fathered a child by Elizabeth Whitland, whom he had been willing to marry. When the "inhabitants" (presumably leading parishioners) had refused to allow this, he had moved to London. Around 1600, he had met an Upminster widow, Mary Coswell, at the nearby Aveley market. She had agreed to come to London to marry him, using his brother's house in Cripplegate to establish residency requirements. Johnson claimed they had been married on St Stephen's Day (26 December) 1600; Mary thought the wedding took place around 1 May. They were in Terling by 1603, when Wrightson and Levine noted the baptism of a daughter. As the authors remark: "What brought them to Terling we shall never know". Mary's first marriage had lasted 9 or 10 years, and she had been a widow for 4 or 5 years. Thus the couple were probably in their forties when they were examined, and perhaps causing local concern that they might have to be supported in later years. Their story is told in PPEV, 80-1, and Essex Archives Online, a source discussed below.

[11] PPEV, 200-1, 114, 138, 203.

[12] M.K. McIntosh, A Community Transformed: the Manor and Liberty of Havering, 1500-1620 (Cambridge, 1991), 250-7.

[13] PPEV, 200n. Wrightson was even more dismissive of the criticism of another historian, Margaret Spufford, who expressed similar concerns, in comments that he regarded as "sometimes imperfectly focused upon our actual arguments". PPEV, 198-9.

[14] PPEV, 158-9, and cf. 141, where parish officers are described as "no doubt secure in the knowledge that they themselves had been playing their part in the divine plan with unprecedented enthusiasm", and 219, which associates Terling with "[t]he Puritan campaign for the reformation of manners".

[15] The Terling register is available for study through the subscription service of Essex Archives Online (EAO). Re-examining it would involve a large study, which I have not attempted. It is not clear from the description of the Terling register in PPEV whether it provides comprehensive evidence of where people lived, within the parish or beyond, or of their occupations. After 1660, Terling became the centre of a sizeable Nonconformist community (PPEV, 164-6). How far its existence affected the comprehensiveness of the parish registers is not discussed, e.g. in 1669 "Thomas Browne died and was buried in a field". PPEV, vii, 47, 165-6; Barton (see below for full reference), 82.

[16] The volume on Ongar Hundred and five more on other parts of south-western Essex were edited by W.R. Powell.

[17] PPEV, 178-9. The authors used both British and American spellings.

[18] PPEV, 222; T. Wales, "Henry Smith [nicknamed Dog Smith]", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. The charity disbursed £1,619 in 1641; £39.8 million in 2020. The Essex parishes of Henham and Tolleshunt D'Arcy also benefited from Henry Smith's charity. Neither seems to have had notable Puritan leanings.

[19] However, a VCH volume could have said little about the operation of Henry Smith's charity in 17th-century Terling as local accounts do not begin until 1693. But other VCH headings might have been useful, e.g. Education: was John Hobson, schoolmaster from at least 1590 to 1604, teaching at an established local school and, if so, who paid for it?

[20] P. Morant, The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex ... (2 vols, London, 1768), ii, 125-9. Morant stated that Great Loyes "afterwards" belonged to the Taverner family, who sold it to John Strutt, the wealthy businessman who acquired an estate in the parish in the mid-18th century. But documents available through Essex Archives Online indicate that the Taverners owned another property elsewhere in the parish, Simon Collins Farm, also known as Newhouse (its modern name), in the late 17th century.  Morant's information was largely recycled by the next major county history, T. Wright, The History and Topography of the County of Essex (2 vols, London, 1836), i, 239-43.

[21] Barton (see below for full reference), 134 summarises what is known about Quarles and Terling.

[22] PPEV, 184. The impact of the Strutt family is extensively discussed and illustrated in "Terling Images".

[23] PPEV, 23.

[24] A.C. Edwards and K.C. Newton, The Walkers of Hanningfield… (London, 1984), 49-50, Table 4, Plate 9. Most of the work on the book had been undertaken during the 1970s, at about the same time as the research for PPEV, but unfortunately the cost of the colour plates delayed publication until after Newton's death. Their statement that the Terling map was commissioned by Sir John Tyrrell is puzzling: this old-established Essex family does not appear to have held land in the parish, and there was no minority in 1597 which might explain the role of a trustee. The "Mannor of Terling" (Terling Place seems to have originated as the name of its "capital mansion") comprised a number of disconnected segments of land, which (through no fault of John Walker) further reduces the map's use to historians. The local history group Historic Terling has an illustration on its website:

[25] C.A. Barton, Historical Notes and Records of the Parish of Terling Essex (no place of publication, preface dated 1953) [cited as Barton]. The value of the Essex Record Office, which was founded in 1938, may be seen by comparing Barton with T.M. Hope, The Township of Hatfield Peverel ... (Chelmsford, 1930), which was able to draw upon far fewer documentary sources. The Essex Record Office holds Barton's notes, and a file of comments on his work.

[26] Among a miscellaneous list of court cases, Barton briefly mentioned the reporting, in 1640, of Thomas Hownal (or Hownell), a rope maker of Terling, for saying Henry Nevill, Gentleman, was a Pope who kept twenty Popes at his house. Nevill, who lived at a nearby mansion, Cressing Temple, was one of the few Essex gentry who actively supported Laud's campaign to impose clerical discipline. He was the unsuccessful Court candidate for the county in the general election that returned the Short Parliament. Wrightson and Levine only became aware of this incident after the publication of PPEV. It is possibly not of great importance, merely confirming the existence of already well-attested advanced Protestant sentiment (even if not very well informed) in Terling. While the surname can be traced locally (e.g. in Coggeshall and Kelvedon), I am unable to identify Hownell: a Richard Hewes, alias Hownell, labourer of Terling, was hanged for theft in 1600. The Victoria County History (VCH, ii, 461) says rope-making was "never ... of first importance" in Essex, especially in inland towns. Witham had rope-makers in the 17th century: Hownell may have been employed there. Barton, 106; PPEV, 222; H. Smith, The Ecclesiastical History of Essex... (Colchester, n.d.), 55-6; J. Gyford, Witham 1500-1700: Making a Living (Witham, 1996), 123.

[27] The tithe award, and map (Barton, 138-61) is reproduced in James Kemble, The Place Names of Terling, 2010, available via The Terling section of the 1921 report of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (Barton, 96-8) is available via It provides an extensive survey of the built environment of 17th-century Terling.

[28] Barton, 70-84. Barton's extracts certainly concentrated on violent deaths (such as the woman who hanged herself in 1666 and was buried beside the road to Hatfield Peverel), and included entries relating to gentry and clergy, but how comprehensive was his coverage remains unclear. Births, marriages and deaths mentioned in this essay are not separately referenced to Barton.

[29] [cited as EAO]. Individual court cases from EAO may be traced by key words and date and are not separately referenced.

[30] Chapman and André's map of Essex (1777) is on It was surveyed in 1772-4, just at the time of the building of the new Terling Place mansion. The one-inch-to-the-mile Ordnance Survey map of 1872-1890 is on The National Library of Scotland has digitised many 25-inch-to-the-mile maps, e.g. showing Terling village in 1895-7. The NLS maps can also be viewed side-to-side with modern maps.

[31] H. Grieve, The Sleepers and the Shadows. Chelmsford: a Town, its People and its Past (2 vols, Chelmsford, 1988-94); W.J. Petchey, A Prospect of Maldon 1500-1689 (Chelmsford, 1991); J. Gyford, Witham 1500-1700: Making a Living (Witham, 1996) [also cited above] and her Public Spirit: Dissent in Witham and Essex 1500-1700 (Witham, 1999), a work of particular relevance and value here. W.F. Quin, A History of Braintree and Bocking (Lavenham, 1981) is a useful overview. J. Cornwall, "The Letter of the Law...", in K. Neale, ed., An Essex Tribute (London, 1987), 143-52 provides a reconstruction of Hatfield Peverel through the lay subsidy of 1524-: cf. PPEV, 32-4, which offers a very similar picture of Terling. There are no doubt other useful academic studies of nearby communities of which I am not aware.

[32] PPEV, 23, 24, 31.

[33] F.G. Emmison, "1555 and All That ...", Essex Review, lxiv (1955), 15-25 offered some pleasant archival reflections on the effect of the Highways Act in Essex.

[34] E.J. Erith, with H.E.P. Grieve, Essex Parish Records 1240-1894 (Chelmsford, 1950), 13-33. Erith noted churchwardens' accounts for Terling from 1668, and vestry books from 1767 (ibid., 200-1). EAO has other vestry records from 1705. However, the selection of the parish as a beneficiary of Henry Smith's charity indicates that a regular process of local government was in operation by the early seventeenth century. PPEV, 104, mentions that Terling had a "Towne meeting" from 1660. Although no details are given, Wrightson and Levine regard it as simply a parish vestry.

[35] PPEV, 133.

[36] A bridging term, "villein", ("villanus" in Domesday Book), had metamorphosed into "villain", its meaning moving away from manorial origins.

[37] In areas that had been heavily wooded in the Middle Ages, it was common for several settlements (later called "ends", and in this context, "hamlets") to spring up. In the case of South Weald, for instance, local historians have tended to follow a narrative in which a 'daughter' settlement, Brentwood, grew up in one corner of the parish, eventually breaking away from the original 'village'. But the parish of South Weald had at least four other settlements. One of these was known, until about 1600, as Churchgate. In 1576, the cartographer Christopher Saxton produced a map of Essex which designated the church as "S. Weald". Gradually, the name became applied to the surrounding cluster of houses, which came to be regarded as the 'capital' of the parish. Although its 18th- and 19th-century houses make South Weald a pleasant place to visit, it has never developed the 'feel' of a village: most artisans, for instance, operated in the nearby main-road hamlet of Brook Street.

[38] Emmison, ed., Early Essex Town Meetings, viii-xii, 1-106.The governing body of the borough of Maldon, the Council, also had 24 members, some of whom were officials. An intriguing allusion in 1596 to "the 24 of Coggeshall" suggests that other cloth towns may have had similar local institutions, but little is known of its activities. While vestry minutes survive from 1606, they apparently contain only skeletal information. F.G. Emmison, Elizabethan Life: Morals & the Church Courts (Chelmsford, 1973), 232; Erith, with Grieve, Essex Parish Records 1240-1894, 83.

[39] Contemporaries sometimes used the term 'town' as a short form of the related term 'township'. Thus Finchingfield had a town meeting from, at least 1626, although the chief settlement in the parish was no more than a large village. The county of Essex accepted responsibility for the maintenance of some bridges on main highways. To pay for this, 358 parishes and boroughs were arranged in categories as "towns", 19 of them market towns and 43 as "great towns". Terling fell into the second group. This group also included Dedham, Manningtree and Newport, which had urban characteristics, but it is difficult to see why Good Easter, Manuden and Matching made the cut. (The 62 larger units paid 2 shillings a year, the residue of smaller places just sixpence: the distinction would hardly have aroused much discontent.)  In 1630, Terling's parish constable reported few problems: "ower town is well reformed".  In 1666, a Terling glover was reported for keeping a lodger (a potential charge on poor rates) without the "town's consent". The shift in usage from that of "the parishe" quoted above from 1617 perhaps reflects the fact that the existence of a Dissenting congregation after 1660 disrupted the unity of the ecclesiastical organisation. It is possible that Terling people gradually came to use the term 'town' for the village area. "An old man killed in the town" was buried in 1646. In 1709, the churchwardens' accounts noted a payment to the bellringers "when the Bishop was in the Town". These references could be interpreted as referring either to the village or the parish. Later, terms such as "town pump" and "town meadow" seem to be applied specifically to the village. A Town House, which stood to the east of the church, variously used as a workhouse, school and almshouse, was demolished sometime after 1826, probably as part of the c.1850 clearances. But even if this was a later local usage, there is no indication that it was adopted by outsiders.  F.G. Emmison, ed., Early Essex Town Meetings... (London, 1970), viii-xii, 107ff; PPEV, 142; Barton, 69, 130.  The same ambiguity can be seen in the diary of Puritan minister Ralph Josselin, who even used the term "towne" to describe Markshall, a tiny parish with very few inhabitants, but also frequently referred to his own village, Earls Colne, as a town, e.g. in reference to a parishioner who "dyed this morning in the feilds as he was coming unto towne". A. Macfarlane, ed., The Diary of Ralph Josselin 1616-1683 (Oxford, 1976), 76, 122.

[40] It should be acknowledged that there was something of a chicken-and-egg relationship between urban status and market function. Markets chartered in a number of Essex communities simply failed to take root. Barton, 18, states that the bishop of Norwich secured the right to hold a weekly market at Terling in 1331. If so, this was very late to break into the pattern of local retail trading, and there is no indication that the market ever functioned. It is not included in the map of markets and fairs in A.C. Edwards, A History of Essex (rev. ed., London, 1978, cf. 1st ed. 1958), 41.

[41] Gyford, Witham 1500-1700, 111.

[42] D. Defoe (ed. P. Rogers), A Journey through the Whole Island of Great Britain (Harmondsworth, 1971, cf. 1st ed. 1724-6), 63.

[43] Gyford, Witham 1500-1700, 14. Chelmsford inns were even larger: Grieve, Sleepers, ii, 92-3. Witham's inns had an average of 8.5 hearths; Chelmsford in 1671 had three with 20 hearths, one with 12, two with 10 and two with 9.

[44] PPEV, 45.

[45] Grieve, Sleepers, ii, 92. About one-eighth of the total population of Chelmsford and its suburb, Moulsham, consisted of "outdwellers", parishioners who lived away from the town streets. It is not clear whether the estimate of 1,700 people took account of this.

[46] Given the overall increase in numbers elsewhere in Essex, Maldon's population remained remarkably stable, even stagnant, throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. But it was also remarkably fluid. Petchey identified 1,129 males (adults and teenagers) who lived in the town between 1569 and 1582. Of these, only one quarter (24%) were resident for the whole period. Petchey, Maldon, 18, 33.

[47] Gyford, Witham 1500-1700, 4.

[48] Gyford, Witham 1500-1700, 112-15.

[49] Gyford, Witham 1500-1700, 226; Defoe (ed. Rogers), A Journey through the Whole Island of Great Britain, 56. A theoretical question arises, although hardly in relation to Terling: at what point does a town become a city? Wrightson and Levine describe Colchester as a "city" (PPEV, 21, 79). It was indeed a borough, electing its own mayor and corporation, it exercised authority over a limited hinterland, it was divided into 12 parishes, and its population in 1674 has been estimated at 10,400 ( Even by the 17th-century, the traditional definition of a city as the seat of a diocesan bishop made little sense of an urban hierarchy in which Newcastle-upon-Tyne (not then a diocesan headquarters), Ipswich, Great Yarmouth, Cambridge, Shrewsbury, Colchester, Hull and Plymouth were among the twenty largest communities in England. Yet, although the 'city' designation has been widely conferred in modern Britain, in January 2022 Colchester – the country's oldest urban centre – remains unrecognised, although once again seeking the accolade.

[50] Phonetic spelling in official records provides evidence that the Essex pronunciation was "hamblet".

[51] Blunts Hall Green was a hamlet in the next-door parish of Witham: Terling people would have passed through it on their way to the Newland Street market. In the seventeenth century it had a maypole, presumably a sign of shared social activity. Gyford, Witham 1500-1700, 35, 237. Janet Gyford points out that the 'Hall' in Blunts Hall Green derives from the lost dialect term 'healh', meaning a nook – another indication that the settlement was always regarded as a miniature community. It was also the location of a tannery, like the Fairstead hamlet of Fuller Street which was just over the Terling parish boundary. There may have been informal consensus that such a polluting activity should be located away from larger population centres: several of the tanneries linked to the major cattle market at Romford were located in the nearby hamlet of Hare Street. It may also be noted that there is a well-established term, "villager", to describe somebody living in a village, but there is no parallel term (e.g. "hamletter") reflecting some sense of identity within the smaller settlement.

[52] John Norrell was a small-scale farmer who supplemented his income by other activities, being variously described in 1580 as a cooper and a brewer. He operated an alehouse, and over many years. He was reported to the courts in 1562 for keeping an unlicensed alehouse, and there are references to his guarantors in 1580 and again between 1605 and 1608. A specific prohibition in 1606 of the sale of flesh (meat) during Lent suggests that he also served meals. John and Joan Norrell were a remarkably long-lived couple in Elizabethan Terling: when Joan died in 1611, the parish register noted that they had been "married upwards of 57 years". Augustine Norrell, their son, is seen by Wrightson and Levine as one of the village leaders around 1620. There can be little doubt that the alehouse operated in the tenement still called Norrils (see, situated about half a mile west of the village and close to Flacks Green. "Terling Images" suggests that Augustine built the c.1600 extension to the early sixteenth-century building, which is illustrated.

[53] As with the term "town", "hamlet" had a potentially confusing contemporary meaning. Across Essex there were about two dozen communities which reported directly to the county courts but had never achieved full parochial status – including places as substantial as the Chelmsford suburb of Moulsham and the market town of Brentwood.  These were technically known as hamlets. B.W. Quintrell, ed., The Maynard Lieutenancy Book, 1608-1639 (2 vols, Chelmsford, 1993), ii, 418-22 lists parishes and hamlets from 1624. There are 35 hamlets, but the list includes 13 wards of Barking, Havering and West Ham, and treats both Brentwood and Great Ilford as full parishes (which they were not). Brentwood and Moulsham probably failed to secure full parochial status because they formed part of South Weald and Chelmsford, both parishes under the direct control of the Bishop of London. Milton Hamlet, in the parish of Prittlewell, became the nucleus of Southend-on-Sea. Chatley Hamlet, in the parish of Great Leighs, to the west of Terling, covered over 1,800 acres – almost three square miles – but lacked any focal point. Although geographically part of Chelmsford Hundred, it was attached to the half-hundred of Witham, apparently because it was somehow connected with Cressing Temple. Formal notices referring to Chatley Hamlet appeared in the London Gazette as late as 1848.  The connection between Chatley Hamlet and Cressing Temple is unexplained, another example of the need for a VCH volume. Morant also recorded that Cressing Temple held an annual court leet in Terling, again without explanation. Morant, History and Antiquities of the County of Essex ii, 97-8. Obviously, this usage had little to do with the definition of a hamlet considered here.

[54] PPEV, 74, 110. A selection of court cases is described as a "brief excursion through the darker streets of the village, pausing to glance in the windows of the alehouses and of the cottages of the poor". The incidents cited probably did relate to anti-social behaviour in the village, as distinct from the wider parish, but the claim seems to have been made without any reconstruction of the configuration of those "darker streets". PPEV, 111.

[55] The Post Office Directory for 1908 gave the area of Terling parish as 3,242 acres.

[56] A. Clark, "Terling Perambulations, 1770-1810", Essex Review, xx (1911), 15-29. In 1770, the perambulation was headed by John Strutt of Terling Place and John Willsheire. He was possibly the 76- year-old carpenter recorded on EAO as having conducted a fast in Terling in 1786. They were accompanied by the parish clerk, the vicar (it is assumed) and four other unidentified men, possibly labourers whose role was to carve boundary markers. By the late 18th century, perambulations of the northern and southern boundaries were conducted in alternate years, then at 3-year intervals. In 1837, the parish paid 6 men one shilling a day each to check the parish bounds (Barton, 70). Perambulations came to an end with the commutation of tithes in 1842-4. Neither the irregular boundaries nor the four detached portions of the parish are discussed in PPEV.

[57] Barton, 121-3.

[58] The black-and-white photograph of the map, reproduced on demonstrates the difficulty of decipherment.

[59] There was obviously a crackdown at this time on the erection of cottages without supporting blocks of land: in 1627, 12 residents of nearby White Notley were reported to the county court. I am amused to note that there were 6 cases of barns being turned into cottages between 1620 and 1627, and 4 more in 1647. The Essex tradition of barn conversions evidently has a long history.

[60] A.F. J. Brown, Prosperity and Poverty: Rural Essex, 1700-1815 (Chelmsford, 1996), 16-17. PPEV, 26-7 plausibly suggests that consolidation of farms had occurred during the 17th century, meaning that there would have been more agriculturalists in 1600 than c. 1700. Brown also noted (31) that c. 1770, there were 4 farm workers for every 100 acres in Terling. Omitting the Terling Place park and the village area, this would point to a parish labour force of about 280 men (and boys). For what it is worth, the calculation tends to confirm the impression that many farm labourers lived in the village.

[61] As noted above, the 1801 census, Britain's first official head-count, revealed that Terling's population had risen by about one fifth since Wrightson and Levine's estimate (580) for the seventeenth century, to 708. The nearby parish of Fairstead, which had no village, contained 1,877 acres and 198 people. If the Fairstead density were applied to the 3,228 acres attributed by the census to Terling, we should expect to find a population of 340, a shortfall on the actual figure which would be explained by a village population of 368. Since Terling's satellite communities of Flacks Green and Gambles Green were probably home to more people than Fairstead's principal hamlet, Fuller Street, this tentative figure for the village would need to be reduced by a couple of dozen. Overall, in 1801 as in 1597, the village of Terling probably accounted for no more than half the parish total, and maybe less. (Remarkably, the 1801 census reported that rural areas of the 3,484-acre borough of Maldon contained only 208 people, but the town was situated in marshland, where population densities were low: Petchey, Maldon, 23.)

[62] Population density in the village area was possibly ten to the acre; in the wider parish, there was perhaps one person for every ten acres.

[63] Marked on the 1597 map, Bettes stood on the south side of the road to Fairstead (now Crow Pond Road). The site is now part of the grounds of Terling Place. F.G. Emmison, Elizabethan Life: Disorder (Chelmsford, 1970), 127; PPEV, 95, 123.

[64]The geographer John Norden in 1594 had used "Terlinge hall" to refer to Terling Place, a usage that seems only to have been adopted during the 17th century. The 1651 court case specifically notes that the disputed tenement was the property of John Godbold, thereby confirming that Terling Hall (alias Margeries), on the southern fringe of the parish, was intended. L.L. Sharpe counted 78 cases of forcible dispossession in Essex ("disseisin") between 1553 and 1603 (from incomplete records), and a further 147 episodes between 1620 and 1680. Violent enforcement of their claims by gentry seems to have been endemic. J.A. Sharpe, Crime in Seventeenth-Century England: a County Study (Cambridge, 1983), 72-3. The discussion of disseisin in Emmison, Elizabethan Life: Disorder, 117-31 confirms that it was very much a gentry activity. In 1555-6, a Terling gentleman, Thomas Shaa, was involved in something like guerrilla warfare over two properties at Great Stambridge and Prittlewell, in south-east Essex.

[65] PPEV, 116.

[66] One mystery is the role of Terling's watermill, which was located within a quarter of a mile of the village. Presumably the medieval requirement that tenants must have their grain ground at the lord's mill no longer applied: the 1597 map shows a "little wyndmill fielde" to the south-east of the village, indicating that the miller faced competition. Further information may perhaps be yielded from the three substantial wills made by Terling millers between 1590 and 1638. In 1610, four strangers from distant parts cut a mill dam at Terling to steal fish, which they presumably scooped out of the mud. If this was an attack on the watermill in Mill Street – and I know of no other in the parish – it is remarkable that so substantial an act of sabotage could have been committed – no doubt at night – so close to the village, without detection.

[67] PPEV, 142, 157; J. Gyford, Public Spirit, 104-8. The parish constable reported in 1630 that, as for "aney parsones absenting them selves from the paryshe churche wee have not aney". It is likely that his portrayal of local harmony was exaggerated. However, Wrightson cited Matthew Warren's report as evidence that "a strong base of godliness" had taken root in Terling. K. Wrightson, English Society 1580-1680 (London, 1982), 212.   

[68] PPEV, 120-1, 124 for two of the episodes. The third clash was between innkeeper Thomas Holman and his accusers, on Christmas Day 1607 (EAO).  F.G. Emmison indicates that one of these confrontations, in which a servant girl was accused of theft, involved Terling people but took place in Fairstead church. However, he adds another episode, in which a man was punched in the churchyard. The attacker was excused because he was a churchwarden, perhaps enforcing order.   Emmison, Elizabethan Life: Morals & the Church Courts, 115, 123. It was customary in 17th-century Essex parishes for men and women to be seated on different sides of the church, which must have limited opportunities for courtship.

[69] It is argued in this essay that the fact that gentry did not hold parish offices did not mean that they lacked influence, as Wrightson and Levine seem to assume in stating that "the gentlemen of the parish chose, for the most part, to participate little in parochial institutions before the late seventeenth century." PPEV, 104. John Godbold of Terling Hall, styled "gentleman", seems to have been the first major landowner to serve as a Terling juror, from the 1660s, having acquired Terling Hall by marriage. His father was the dominant landowner in Hatfield Peverel from the 1630s: Morant, The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex, ii, 133; Hope, The Township of Hatfield Peverel, 31-2, 37, 162.

[70] PPEV, 33-6, 103-7.

[71] PPEV, 106. The Tabor house is discussed and illustrated in "Terling Images". The chimney was almost certainly rebuilt in 1613, as the 1597 map shows chimneys on all village homes.

[72] PPEV, 177. The overall numbers involved in parish government seem to have remained unchanged a century later: between 1713 and 1732, A.F.J. Brown identified "54 people who played some part, most of them a fairly full part, in parish affairs". Brown, Prosperity and Poverty, 17. The figures probably reflect the regular turnover in burdensome parish offices, and may not justify the imposed category of a "ruling group". W.J. Petchey was cautious in applying the term to Maldon, since service on its town council, the Company, (usually by rotation) involved about one-fifth of male householders in any decade. Petchey, Maldon, 155-6.  

[73] John Lily died in 1591. Soon after, John Hobson married Mary Lily, widow. He was still Terling's schoolmaster when he made his will in 1604.

[74] Quoted from EAO, and summarised in PPEV, 124-5. Henry Rayner was the village wheelwright, who made an extensive will in 1616. In 1599, Rayner was prosecuted in the church courts after a blazing row with the vicar of Terling, James Robinson, whom he was accused of calling a liar. Rayner claimed that Robinson had started it;  the court took a neutral stance, enjoining him to make his peace. He was evidently an assertive man and, as a wheelwright he probably had the muscle to take care of himself against the undoubted fury of Thomas Holman.  Emmison, Elizabethan Life: Morals & the Church Courts, 211.

[75] PPEV, 39-40.

[76] The village green is a few yards west of The Street, the principal village thoroughfare. It was also surrounded by high-status buildings (and the church) and may not have been much used for communal grazing. Until its extension by clearances on its west side c.1850, it was also small.

[77] In 1644, a Witham grocer apologised for failing to represent the town at a Chelmsford court, explaining that "it is our markett day and that I cannot well come". Gyford, Witham 1500-1700, 162.

[78] New Hall, Boreham (originally Henry VIII's palace, Beaulieu) remained a major country house, owned by such notable figures as James I's favourite, the Duke of Buckingham, and by General George Monck, Duke of Albemarle, who brought about the restoration of Charles II in 1660. In 1798 it became the home of a community of nuns, exiled from France, and remains an independent Catholic school. It is likely that New Hall exercised some economic and social influence within the Terling community in the 16th and 17th centuries, although this may not be easily traced in surviving records. 18th-century maps on EAO indicate that Porridge Pot, Ringers and Terling Hall all held lands in adjoining parishes. (Porridge Pot and Ringers owed their names to medieval owners.)

[79] Barton, 99-100. It is unlikely that the river Ter, a back formation from Terling, was so named before modern times.

[80] Smith, Ecclesiastical History of Essex, 307. In 1650, it was proposed to partition the parish of Faulkbourne, adding two farms and a cottage to Terling.

[81] Fairstead's population of 198 at the time of the 1801 census perhaps suggests c. 150 people in the 17th century, hardly enough to sustain independent local services. The location of Fairstead tannery was given in 1592 when complaint was made against Nicholas Want, tanner, for erecting flood gates at "Fulster Street" and polluting the upper stretches of the river Ter. Few crafts or trades were carried on in the parish of Fairstead: EAO mentions a tailor in 1582 and a blacksmith in 1686. Venn's Alumni Cantabrigienses lists John Elletson, a student at Pembroke College who graduated in 1662, as the son of John Elletson of Fairstead, who was described as a "currier" (skilled leather worker). This is a very rare instance of a local lad studying at Cambridge. His subsequent career is unknown.

[82] The butcher "Walshire" was probably John Wilshire, butcher, who died in 1620. Daniel Wilshire, butcher, who made his will in 1661, was probably a son. The family then moved up the social ladder, with descriptions such as yeoman, gentleman and grazier.  The surname was also spelt Willshire, Willshere and Willshar: the last of them, Mary Willshere (Willshire in EAO) occupied Ringers in 1848. John Wilshire married in 1580, the year of Boltwood's threat, which perhaps suggests that non-business rivalry was the trigger for conflict.

[83] The manor of Fairstead Hall was purchased by John Strutt of Terling Place in 1802, and the land incorporated into the estates of Lord Rayleigh. The two parishes for ecclesiastical purposes merged in 1926, and today share a local government parish council.

[84] PPEV, 108.

[85] PPEV, 79. It would be interesting to know more about the origins of Thomas Hewes, who served as churchwarden between 1590 and 1600. While the surname Hughes is not necessarily Welsh, it is noteworthy that Thomas Hewes used the alias Uprichards (for instance during a dispute with one of the perennially aggressive Rochesters in 1591). This would seem to be the traditional Welsh patronymic "ap Richard" (the origin of the surname Pritchard), and suggests an association with the Principality within recent generations. How did a family (or an individual) from Wales become so firmly established in an Essex parish? Unluckily, he fell into debt and died by suicide in 1607. A contemporary Terling labourer, Richard Hewes, used the alias Hownell, which might possibly have derived from the Welsh Howell (Hywel). He was hanged in 1600, PPEV, 106, 125. 

[86] PPEV, 77. 80.5% of marriage partners from outside the parish came from communities within 9 miles.

[87] Much depends on the consistency with which the Terling parish register recorded grooms or brides from outside the parish. A sample check of three other Essex parishes suggests that it was only rarely (and usually briefly) that an incumbent or parish clerk rose to such a level of efficiency (which, in any case, does not seem to have been a requirement).  Chipping Ongar was a small market town in a 500-acre parish, thus lacking much hinterland. With one exception (the wedding, by special licence, of strangers in 1606), no information about residence was entered before 1619. From then until 1637 (when entries became less detailed), there were 47 marriages, of which 15 involved outsiders (13 grooms, two brides). Stifford, a rural parish of 1,400 acres, had 23 marriages between 1620 and 1630, of which 3 were between strangers by special licence. Half of the other 20 weddings involved a groom from beyond the parish. At South Weald, a parish comparable in size to Terling and containing the market town of Brentwood, information was recorded for 1541 (6 outsiders in 14 marriages) and from April 1568 to September 1571 (8 outsiders in 36 ceremonies). A tentative (and hardly surprising) conclusion from this incomplete information would suggest that the smaller the parish, by area or population, the more likely its residents found lifetime partners beyond its borders: Chipping Ongar 32%; Stifford 50%, South Weald 28%. In both Chipping Ongar and Stifford, the outsider was usually the bridegroom. If comparable numbers from each parish married elsewhere, the percentages would be Chipping Ongar 48%; Stifford 67%; South Weald 44%. F.A. Crisp, ed., The Parish Registers of Ongar, Essex (1886); Crisp, ed., The Parish Registers of Stifford, Essex (1885); R. Hovenden, ed., The First Book of the Registers of St Peter, South Weald... (1889), all privately printed. Information in the Terling parish register enabled A.F.J. Brown to make a similar calculation for 1754-8, when 6 of the 14 weddings involved someone from outside the parish. The sample is of course small, but the 44% of Terling people marrying an outsider would rise to 60% if a similar number of locals had gone to the altar in their partners' parishes during the same period. Brown, Prosperity and Poverty, 69.

[88] Many registers, e.g. those of Fairstead (from 1539) and Boreham (from 1559) cover long periods, and may be hoped to be reasonably comprehensive. Unfortunately, some of the parishes closest to Terling have incomplete records: that of Great Leighs only survives from 1641, while Hatfield Peverel and Witham, communities of particular interest, have few entries before 1700.

[89] PPEV, 77, 127. 81.8% of external partners in illegitimacy cases came from within 9 miles; 28.6 percent of all fathers of children born outside marriage in Terling came from other communities. As Wrightson and Levine point out, poor people often did not marry until the bride was pregnant, and sometimes their intentions were frustrated or at least delayed, complications that account for one-third (36.6%) of cases of ex nuptial births. "What, they goin' to be married? Why, she ain't big yet" was a comment recorded in his Essex Dialect Dictionary (London, 1923), 20-1, by the Reverend Edward Gepp of High Easter, who disapprovingly added that the remark was a "sad comment on local morals". Wrightson and Levine estimate that only three-tenths (31.7%) of illegitimacy cases involved "fairly unambiguous sexual delinquency", including several that strongly suggest non-consensual exploitation of female servants. Illegitimacy statistics cover the years 1570 to 1699. PPEV, 128

[90] From his exile in Connecticut in 1640, Thomas Hooker published a sermon which elaborately likened the need for spiritual sustenance to a country dweller's dependence upon market towns: "In the little countrey village ... there are no markets, no, nor commodities that wee need ... many a man goes four or five or six miles to market ... a man might make shift for a while without a market, by borrowing of his neighbours; but a man cannot live without a market long". Hilda Grieve plausibly argues that Hooker drew upon his experience of Chelmsford, where he had been employed as curate and lecturer between 1626 and 1629. Grieve, Sleepers, ii, 41. Terling had no retail services before the late-17th century: a grocer made his will in 1697 (cf. PPEV, 22). However, nearby Hatfield Peverel, a main-road village, had a grocer in 1639 (when he was acquitted on a charge of horse theft) and a shopkeeper in 1676. Hooker's generalised use of the term "man" might perhaps be qualified to omit most labourers, who probably relied for basic supplies on their employers. The role of women in Essex markets is less well documented, but references in EAO suggest that they played a large role in selling butter.

[91] Gyford, Witham 1500-1700, 142. In Maldon, the Clerk of the Market held a weekly court. Witham market records have not survived.

[92] For Garrard, see Gyford, Witham 1500-1700, 189-90.

[93] Brown, Prosperity and Poverty, 44-5, suggests that farmers' wives and daughters became less likely to attend Essex markets in the later 18th century.

[94] One will quoted by F.G. Emmison indicates a perhaps surprising contact with Great Dunmow, a market town 12 miles away. In 1584, a "yeoman" of Dunmow (apparently also operating as a timber merchant) listed among his assets "sawen, hewen and cleft timber which I have in Iverie Wood in Terling and Fairstead". (Marked on modern maps as Ivy Wood, it still straddles the parish boundary in the north-east corner of Terling.) Woodland management was important in Tudor times, but it seems surprising that skilled forestry services and commercially active timber merchants were not available closer to hand. F.G. Emmison, Elizabethan Life: Home, Work & Land (Chelmsford, 1991), 56.

[95] Barton, 68. Similarly, when the tower of Terling church was handsomely rebuilt in 1732, the work was undertaken by a stonecutter from Chelmsford. Grieve, Sleepers, ii, 131.

[96] Quintrell, ed., The Maynard Lieutenancy Book, 1608-1639, ii, 256. The report is of value because it scaled down some of the more extravagant claims for the importance of the cloth trade, no doubt because the Privy Council did not welcome bad news.

[97] Gyford, Witham 1500-1700, 144-8; PPEV, 21-2. Gyford was puzzled by the apparent absence of evidence for textile workers in Terling. Barton, 30, stated that there were weavers in 17th-century Terling, but cited no examples. A.F.J. Brown noted three weavers in early 18th-century Terling, who each made wills in the decade after 1700. This suggests that they were active in the parish during the late-17th century, and may perhaps imply that they were wealthy enough to employ staff. Brown, Prosperity and Poverty, 16. J. Mortimer, The Whole Art of Husbandry... (2nd ed., London, 1708, cf. 1st ed. 1707), 148 reported that teasels were grown in the countryside around Coggeshall and Kelvedon "and other places in Essex". These produced stiff seedheads which were used to brush cloth as part of the finishing process. This is a tantalising reference which may indicate that Terling farmers were influenced by the needs of the local textile industry: Mortimer lived at Toppinghoe Hall in Hatfield Peverel, close to Terling Hall. His textbook is regarded as a landmark in the study of farming methods in Britain.

[98] PPEV, 107. His son, Thomas, who inherited his tools, was described as a "house carpenter" (presumably a builder) when he made his will in 1671. There was a curious case in (and, for some years, after) 1596, when Mary Mascall was convicted of setting fire to the tithe barn of Henry Robinson, the rector of Fairstead: she was described as "spinster" but also as the wife of Alexander Mascall, rector of Great Leighs from 1588 until his death in 1619. Mary Mascall escaped before she could be sentenced, although in 1608 it was alleged that Richard Rochester "lyved incontinentlye" with her. Alexander Mascall was also rector of Woodham Walter from 1577: Mary was not his "widow" in 1608 (PPEV, 221) because he was very much alive. This may explain why Terling's churchwardens were criticised that year for neglecting their duty by two men from Woodham Walter who confronted them in Maldon market. Rumours regarding an irregular relationship with Richard Rochester dated back to 1598. Perhaps these reports were somehow connected with the alleged arson attack on the rector of Fairstead. (PPEV, 221).Possibly Mary Mascall was employed by a Braintree clothier, but it seems an unlikely occupation for a clergyman's spouse, although perhaps explicable for a woman estranged from her lawful husband. Henry Robinson's determination to enforce chastity among his parishioners made him enemies in Fairstead. Thomas Scott (styled yeoman in his will of 1607, in 1590 tenant of Walley Hall, now Great Warley Hall, one of the larger farms in the parish) was compelled to do public penance for adultery in 1584, and four years later faced prosecution for calling Robinson "a farting priest". In 1596, the rector reproved a woman called Drane for cuckolding her husband after dancing all night with a young man at her own wedding celebrations. She replied: "Hold your peace, for you were the first". In 1598, Robinson unsuccessfully challenged the 'compurgators' (pledges of good behaviour) submitted to the church court by Nicholas Want, the Fuller Street tanner, complaining that one of them, George Want, was the illegitimate son of the accused, and a person "of evil name and fame". Emmison, Elizabethan Life: Morals & the Church Courts, 208, 212, 295. Nothing seems to be known of Henry Robinson's background or education and it is impossible to know if he was related to James Robinson, his contemporary as vicar of Terling. The tradition that he was the Oxford academic who became bishop of Carlisle in 1598 has been dismissed by M. Clark, "Robinson, Henry (1551/2–1616)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. The Fairstead incumbent lived until 1626.

[99] Gyford, Public Spirit, 56-7. F.G. Emmison, Elizabethan Life: Wills of Essex Gentry & Yeoman (Chelmsford, 1980), 14-15, quotes the will extensively but omits the "[l]ong religious preamble". Maldon was also an early centre of Puritan activity. In 1586, the bishop of London was warned of a plot to disrupt his impending visitation: a man dressed as a jester planned to seize his mitre (the "Canterbury cap") to trigger a riot. In 1584, a petition from "the inhabitants within the town of  Maldon and other places near-adjoining in Essex" supported a threatened radical cleric. Patrick Collinson, the authority on Elizabethan Puritanism, regarded this as part of a contrived campaign. Petchey, Maldon, 207; P. Collinson, The Elizabethan Puritan Movement (London, 1967), 256. 

[100] Emmison, Early Essex Town Meetings, vii; PPEV, 157-60. Although the relationship between Puritanism and witchcraft allegations was complex, it may be worth noting that no such charges were recorded for Terling. Such beliefs erupted from time to time in nearby communities: there were 4 such cases in Hatfield Peverel between 1566 and 1572; 3 in Witham between 1587 and 1592. EAO, Gyford, Public Spirit, 70-1. It could be that similar suspicions were filtered out of the formal reporting process by Sir Thomas Mildmay (Thomas II), whose role is discussed below. I owe this point to Terry Barringer. 

[101] Quin, A History of Braintree and Bocking, 108. The rector, Richard Kidder, became bishop of Bath and Wells, and was killed by a falling chimney during the great storm of 1703. Poos, A Rural Society after the Black Death, 40, calls medieval Rayne a "virtual suburb" of Braintree.

[102] Gyford, Witham 1500-1700, 116.

[103] Emmison, ed., Early Essex Town Meetings, 37.

[104] Petchey, Maldon, 43.  Petchey calls him Elias Robinson,which is probably a mistranscription:  Barton, 85 follows Venn's Alumni Cantabrigienses in identifying him as James. While taking communion in 1596, a Terling woman called James Robinson a "wrangler and prater".  Emmison, Elizabethan Life: Morals & the Church Courts, 126.

[105] Petchey, Maldon, 140-3; Barton, 43. Coal for Terling perhaps came through the wharf at Heybridge, on the north side of the Blackwater, not part of the Maldon but controlled by the borough. The suggestion by Emmison (Early Essex Town Meetings, xi) that coal was "presumably" brought up the Blackwater to Witham is not borne out by Gyford's research. The 1608 visit of Terling's churchwardens to Maldon market is noted above in connection with the Mary Mascall affair, PPEV, 221. A surviving account book for the market at Billericay, a secondary centre, for the years 1703-6, shows that a fishmonger from Maldon visited intermittently. Since the distance involved was double that to Witham, it seems likely that Maldon also supplied Terling, although Gyford does not mention the sale of sea fish in Witham market. Chelmsford had an active fish market. Essex Review, lviii (1949), 124.

[106] The petition is extensively quoted in Barton, 106, and on EAO. There are brief allusions in PPEV, 25 and Grieve, Sleepers, ii, 76. Richard Warren may have been related to Matthew Warren, the parish constable who provided the suspiciously reassuring report of 1630. Goodman Pepper was possibly the John Pepper of Terling who was involved in a confrontational dispute in 1653.

[107] Erith, with Grieve, Essex Parish Records 1240-1894, 74, 152-3. There is a gap in the marriage records of Maldon, St Peter between 1687 and 1695, which is probably not of great importance.

[108] The road to Witham was diverted in 1771 to make way for the Terling Place mansion; the road to Boreham was closed altogether. These changes are discussed in "Terling Images" (

[109] Mill Street was realigned c. 1850 to become Church Road, as illustrated in "Terling Images".

[110] Brown, Prosperity and Poverty: Rural Essex, 1700-1815, 16-17.

[111] An 18th-century experiment in Essex calculated that 1,300 tons of seasoned oak wood were required to make one ton of potash, with an estimate that 1,800 tons of "green" (recently felled) oak would produce the same result. Proximity to woodland would thus seem a requirement. EAO has eighteenth-century deeds to an unidentified Potash and Woodlands Farm in Terling. The tithe map of 1844 marks the 14-and-a-half acre Potash Wood: later Ordnance Survey maps indentify it as Ringers Wood, in the south-west of the parish.  However, this may not entirely solve the question of location: potash-manufacture involved repeated purification, and Ringers Wood has no obvious water supply. Potash manufacture declined in Essex after 1825, and ceased around 1850, which fits with the renaming of Ringers Wood. Victoria County History of Essex, ii, 372-5. I am obliged to Heather Cutler of Historic Terling for the suggestion that Porridge Pot, a farm in the south-west of the parish, might owe its name to potash-manufacture: the first element recalls the curious surname of a medieval owner, the second may be more than a rustic joke.

[112] PPEV, 109.

[113] With 19 allegedly illegal operators prosecuted in Terling over nine decades, there was surely room for some in the wider parish. PPEV, 134.

[114] Sharpe, Crime in Seventeenth-Century England: a County Study, 50, quoting the PhD thesis of B.W. Quintrell. Magistrates and parish officials may have been aware of this approximate ratio: in 1616, it was noted that there were "too many alehouses in Witham by six", and, two years later, complaint was made that the number of alehouses in Hatfield Peverel was "more then [sic] needes". Gyford, Public Spirit, 83; EAO.

[115] A search in EAO for "Fairstead / Fairsted" and "alehouse" between 1550 and 1700 finds no mention of any hostelry being licensed or prosecuted for illegal operation – a remarkable blank record, which suggests that the inhabitants trudged to nearby settlements for their ale. (This seems all the more surprising, given that the Fairstead hamlet of Fuller Street supported a gastro-pub in 2021.) There was an intriguing episode in 1627, when the justices agreed to suppress an alehouse in Beauchamp Roding, a 1,200-acre entirely rural parish within twenty miles of Terling. Locals complained that the offending alehouse was located in an inconvenient place alongside a wood, and that, in any case, they had no need of such a facility. Beauchamp Roding, with a population of 220 in 1801, has no discernible village centre.

[116] Sharpe, Crime in Seventeenth-Century England: a County Study, 52. A kilderkin was a half-size barrel of beer or ale. We should not forget that people drank ale because brewing was the only way to ensure the purification of water. The parish register of the South Essex marshland parish of Rainham recorded the death of a hard-working farm labourer in 1798: he "drank water imprudently and bro't on a dysentery": L. Thompson, The Story of the Land that Fanns… (Chelmsford, 1957), 73.

[117] PPEV, 136; Sharpe, Crime in Seventeenth-Century England: a County Study, 53. Court proceedings naturally focused upon problem episodes, and this may give a distorted picture of the overall state of Essex alehouses. In fact, it seems reasonable to assume that some alehouses functioned quietly over long periods, causing no trouble and hence leaving little trace in county records. William Holmes was licensed as a victualler in 1607, but nothing more is heard of him until the Puritan vicar Thomas Weld flexed his muscles and tried, unsuccessfully, to have him closed down twenty years later. PPEV, 137-8. Sharpe, Crime in Seventeenth-Century England: a County Study, 55 cites a similar case from Coggeshall in 1671 where an elderly man was allowed to support his family by keeping an alehouse. At Terling, John Norrell was also permitted to remain in business in his seventies. This suggests that magistrates usually regarded alehouses as orderly places.

[118] Emmison, Elizabethan Life: Disorder, 202, quoting a summary of a 1603 act of parliament by Michael Dalton in his Country Justice... of 1618.

[119] Emmison, Elizabethan Life: Disorder, 214; Gyford, Witham 1500-1700, 132. A return by the magistrates of north-east Essex in 1577 reported 175 licensed premises in their division, of which 31 were considered to be inns and 135 alehouses. Since the area included Colchester and Harwich, the ratio of inns to alehouses (about 1:4) may have been larger than in other parts of Essex. No attempt was made to distinguish between alehouses and victualling houses, and the survey also included 9 "taverns" (wine-bars, serving upmarket refreshment but not providing accommodation – 5 of them in Colchester). Emmison, Elizabethan Life: Disorder, 215.

[120] On the use of signs to distinguish inns from alehouses, Gyford, Witham 1500-1700, 132 and, more generally, M. Christy, The Trade Signs of Essex... (Chelmsford, 1887).

[121] The Angel in Terling was not a particularly large establishment: John Aldridge was charged for 5 fireplaces in the Hearth Tax of 1662: Barton, 161. It was the range of services offered that qualified the Holman/Aldridge enterprise as an inn. As discussed in "Terling Images", there may have been two other drinking establishments known by their signs. The Bell was mentioned in the local rental of c. 1475, and in a will of 1524 (Barton, 24, 118). Available sources do not indicate whether it was still trading by the 17th century. Although I have not traced the White Hart before 1772, the sign was popular in the Middle Ages, and several nearby towns have examples housed in ancient buildings. Christy, The Trade Signs of Essex, 52-5 calls the sign "unusually common in the county of Essex. Nearly every town or village of any consequence possesses an example." Christy also provided evidence that inn signs were rarely recorded before the 17th century. An undated threat by the Terling vestry during the post-1793 wars against French to restrict the opening hours of the White Hart suggests that it had succeeded the Angel as the dominant hostelry by that time. Brown, Prosperity and Poverty, 152.

[122] PPEV, 124-5, 137, 178, 221. The will of John Aldridge, made in 1666, described him as an innholder, and named the premises as the Angel, making the connection that court records apparently never troubled to note. A road closure notice by justices of the peace in 1788 referred to the junction of the two village streets as "the Three Want Way in Terling Street by the Angel near the church". (A three-want way was an Essex term for a T-junction.) The location is confirmed by other deeds dating from 1665 which identify Mill Lane as leading from the Angel to Church Green adjoining churchyard, and as the road from the Angel to Terling Mill. The inn is indicated on the 1597 map as a tenement set back from the adjoining (smaller) cottages: eighteenth-century deeds on EAO show that it stood on half an acre of ground. The baptism of a daughter born to "travelling folk" in 1684 confirms that the Angel provided accommodation. It also served meals: in 1745, members of the local Vestry rewarded themselves for their labours by spending four shillings on breakfast there. Barton, 84, 41. It was large enough to provide private 'conference' space, for instance hosting the justices' 1788 road closure meeting. The Angel may have closed soon after as part of the Strutt family's remodelling of the village.

[123] PPEV, 95. In his will of 1602, he used the surname Aldredge, which sometimes appears in later records.

[124] But Holman emphatically did not introduce paralytic inebriation to Terling. In 1599, the churchwardens prosecuted a man who was so drunk that he became incontinent. They described his condition in scatalogical detail. Emmison, Elizabethan Life: Morals & the Church Courts, 70.

[125] PPEV, 136.

[126] The sign was probably of pre-Reformation origin: rampaging Puritans smashed images of angels, and it would hardly have been a smart business move to adopt such a logo in the 17th century. Eleven examples survived in Essex by the 1880s: the Angel at Colchester was described as an "auncyent inne" in 1603. In 1692, William III stayed overnight at the Kelvedon Angel, on a return journey from the Netherlands.  Christy, The Trade Signs of Essex, 132-3.

[127] This alone would help to explain why prosecutions for various offences rose from around 1608.

[128] PPEV, 136.

[129] While Puritans were notoriously hostile to alehouses, it does not follow that they necessarily disapproved of inns. Religious radicals were generally supportive of the commercial economy, and inns were useful adjuncts to business deals and also provided vital accommodation for travelling merchants. As Wrightson and Levine reveal, John Stalham vicar of Terling, was one of 15 ministers who argued in 1643 that all alehouses should be suppressed as "one of the cheife rootes upon which a world of diabolicall wickednes growes" – no surprise there – but with the proviso that "those that shall be judged fitt for situation and have persons fitly qualified for the keepinge them may be licensed uppon the approbation of the minsters and other cheife inhabitants" (PPEV, 162). In 1656, Essex magistrates adopted strict licensing regulations, which are extensively quoted on EAO. Each landlord was to provide £40 as a form of bail, with two respectable neighbours standing surety at £20 each: these were substantial sums. Licensed premises were to be on major roads and not in out-of-the-way places, and to be designated by a sign. They were to provide at least two beds for travellers (who, no doubt, might be expected to share) and stabling for four horses. Where the early 17th-century licensing process had treated inns as alehouses, the Puritans – while aiming to reduce the overall number of licensed premises – in effect aimed to convert those that remained into inns. While the fact that licensees also needed to secure a certificate of good character from their local minister was, on the face of it, the symbol of a Puritan victory, it also meant that even godly clergy would make themselves complicit in the hospitality system. Sharpe, Crime in Seventeenth-Century England: a County Study, 50 regards the 1656 regulations as embodying "standard practice throughout the century". However, the stiff sums demanded for sureties and the involvement of the clergy suggest that the 1656 document represented a considerable tightening-up of the rules. P. Clark, The English Alehouse: a Social History 1200-1830 (London, 1983), 7-9 notes that the inn became a focus of gentry social activity after the Restoration.

[130] PPEV, 124. Wrightson and Levine point out that Holman was "a peculiarly violent man", and there are indications that he drank heavily. Isolated within the parish of Terling, in 1604, he called upon sureties from two farmers from Castle Hedingham, which suggests that he came from there. Although the two villages are 18 miles apart, both would have been within the hinterland of Braintree, and the Holman-Aldridge marriage may well have been negotiated through the market town.

[131] It may be noteworthy that he did not attempt to evict Thomas Holman by physical force, which tends to support the theory that direct action was not an attractive strategy in the village, where defenders might easily be summoned.

[132] Richard Rochester inherited from his father William Rochester, who died in 1587, 6 acres of land at Owles  described as abutting on the west side of the road from Much [Great] Leighs to Maldon and on the east by Crowfields, which can be identified from the 1844 tithe apportionment map. This small holding was located close to the site of the later Rayleigh Arms public house. He also received four fields nearby – hardly enough to sustain the dignity of a 'gentleman'. Barton, 122.

[133] Wine was imported through Maldon, where one late-16th century vintner was described as "trading to a great part of Essex". Unless wine sales were very slow in Terling, the 9-month stay of execution suggests that Holman had acquired a large stock. A Maldon publican forced out of business in 1586 had pleaded for ten days in which "to sell such beer as he now hath in his house": as Petchey points out, beer, fortified with hops, could be stored for longer than ale.  Petchey, Maldon, 61, 115.

[134] Grieve, Sleepers, ii, 93; PPEV, 41 for wage rates.

[135] PPEV, 179.

[136] However, EAO does not indicate any upsurge in prosecutions of vintners in this period, as might be expected if an epidemic of fortified wine was a threat to public order.

[137] EAO notes that a writ was issued in Westminster in June 1607 to compel Thomas "Homan", vintner of Terling, to appear at the assizes. It is argued below that the active magistrate Sir Thomas Mildmay (Thomas II), who died a year later, seems to have become less active at around this time, perhaps giving an opportunity for the Rochester family to reassert their dominance within the community.

[138] John Norrell, probably Augustine's grandfather, had married Aneline Rochester in 1541.

[139] The younger John Aldridge took over the Angel about 1625, and ran it for forty years: at his death in 1665, the parish register noted that he was eighty years of age. There may have been a kinship link with Rochester and Norrell that is yet to be detected.

[140] The dispute is described in "Terling Images".

[141] Thus in 1625, and named as "John Atteredge of Terling vintner" (possibly a transcription error), he faced prosecution "for suffering Robert Tunbredge, a stranger... to sit drinking and tippling in his house" in an alcoholic session with three Terling men. In 1630, Aldridge was reported for keeping a "slydboard table" on his premises, and for allowing customers to play shovelboard.

[142] PPEV, 179. Elsewhere, Aldridge is described as "inkeeper" or "innkeeper": PPEV, 22, 136.

[143] In 1352, Bishop William Bateman sealed the statutes of his new Cambridge college, Trinity Hall, at Terling. In 1354, he was at Terling from January 7-12 and April 24-27: M. Thompson, Medieval Bishops’ Houses in England and Wales (Abingdon, 2018 ed., cf. 1st ed, 1998), unpaginated, quoting Dr P. Pobst. Bateman was travelling to or from London each time.

[144] Philip Morant punctiliously used the technical term for an episcopal residence, writing that the bishops of Norwich had "a Palace in this place". Others romantically searched for traces of some grandiose building: as the Chelmsford journalist D.W. Coller put it in 1861, there was "not even a cob-webbed corner of the old palace left". Morant, The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex, ii, 125; D.W. Coller, The People's History of Essex...  (Chelmsford, 1861), 377-8 and, for other speculations, Barton, 34; J. Bettley and N. Pevsner, Essex... (New Haven, Conn., 2007), 761-2.

[145] Norden quoted from the 1841 Camden Society edition of Speculae Britanniae Pars… (; Barton, 161. The old manor house was demolished shortly after the completion of the Strutt family mansion, the modern-day Terling Place, in 1773. Some of the presumed farmyard building [marked H on the schematic plan] continued to be used as "offices and stables" until c.1818, when they were demolished to allow J.H. Strutt to add sweeping wings to Terling Place.  C.R. Strutt, The Strutt Family of Terling 1650-1873 (privately printed, 1939), 16:

[146] The thumbnail may be examined through an enlargeable extract from the 1597 map on The mansion seems to have consisted of two wings projecting to the rear, linked by what was probably a central hall. The frontage was of five bays (i.e. there were five gables, of which the central one may have been a two-storey porch). In "Terling Images", I offer the tentative suggestion that the two buildings were the work of James Goldwell (bishop of Norwich, 1472-99), who was a member of Edward IV's Council.

[147] St John's Abbey on the edge of Colchester, the home of the Lucas family, was a rare example of a mansion in an urban setting. Paycocke's at Coggeshall was a merchant house, impressively prosperous  but on a much smaller scale.

[148] The original Nonconformist meeting house, opposite Bell Corner, belonged to the manor of Ockendon Fee: Barton, 94, quoting a deed of 1714. The manor was also called Owles Hill.

[149] This explains how the local Nonconformists managed in 1753 to acquire a site for a Congregational Chapel on the north side of the green, cheekily facing the Anglican church.  It closed in 2017.

[150] Strutt, The Strutt Family of Terling 1650-1873, 57.

[151] Reference of disputes to the lord of the manor (Petre) enabled him to "determine the cause in controversy and make an end thereof, if he is able and so wishes". J. Samaha, Law and Order in Historical Perspective: the Case of Elizabethan Essex (New York, 1974), 106.

[152] Sir John Petre (son of Sir William) used the manorial court at Stock in 1580 in an attempt to ban Sunday football. In 1585, Roger Harlackenden imposed a 9 o'clock curfew in Earls Colne: he had recently purchased the manor, one of two in the parish, and may have been testing his authority.  Elizabethan Life: Home, Work & Land, 239, 233. These were unusually strict impositions of landlord authority. Manorial boundaries were too intertwined in Terling to make such regulation possible through the local courts.

[153] There seems to be an example of the problems caused by divided landlord control in the parish in a complaint made by the Terling constables in 1596 against "Dame Agnes Lady Browne" and five men, several of whom may be identified as farmers or husbandmen. Although commanded by the parish constables to take their accustomed turn as member of the parish watch, they flatly refused and insisted that they would "watch at their own pleasure". Dame Agnes Brown owned the manor of Ridley Hall, in the north-west of the parish. 1596 was a year of Rochester violence, and she perhaps decided that the tenants of Ridley Hall should stand aside, and manage their own security. Barton, 104.

[154] Samaha, Law and Order in Historical Perspective: the Case of Elizabethan Essex, 54-5.

[155] PPEV, 104-5, 138.

[156] Even at Braintree, the closest 17th-century Essex could offer to a pastiche of a Puritan city-state, the Four and Twenty deferred to the authority of the lord of the manor, the Earl of Warwick, who ratified their revised constitution of 1620 and "require[d] the Four and Twenty carefully and diligently to observe them". Warwick was "sollicited to reforme the disorders of the faire", to prevent such excesses as bear-baiting "which tendeth to the great hinderance of the tradesmen of the towne". Decisions were also taken "because my Lord of Warwicke hath requested it" and "by my Lord of Warwickes command". Quin, A History of Braintree and Bocking, 123-5; Emmison, ed., Early Essex Town Meetings, 7, 16, 40, 60.

[157] A Mildmay family historian stated that Thomas II and his second wife, Ann Savile, had three daughters. No modern reference work confirms this: Chelmsford and Terling baptismal records would presumably resolve the mystery. H.A. St. John Mildmay, Brief Memoir of the Mildmay Family (privately printed, London, 1913), 24.

[158] In 1550, Sir William Petre employed 21 servants at Ingatestone Hall, with other employees such as a bailiff and a falconer living elsewhere on the estate. A smaller complement would have been required to meet the needs of a landlord who was only occasionally in residence (for instance, Petre employed a nursemaid for his young children), but a house the size of the Mildmay mansion could not have been maintained on a lock-up basis. F.G. Emmison, Tudor Secretary: Sir William Petre at Court and Home (London, 1961), 151-2.

[159] In their survey of the 1597 map, Newton and Edwards identified an exotic feature – a banqueting house. This was probably an addition by Audley, who would have wished to feast his political associates. Emmison (Tudor Secretary, 35) states that the imposing term denoted a summerhouse used to serve fruit desserts.

[160] Audley owned property in Terling, Much [Great] Leighs, Hatfield Peverel, Boreham, Fairstead, Notley, Rayne, Braintree, Hatfield Broad Oak, Cressing and Witham. His will is summarised on

[161] The Duke of Norfolk controlled Terling through his marriage to Margaret Audley, one of the Lord Chancellor's two daughters. Her sister, Mary, did not live to adulthood, and is stated by reference sources to have died c. 1546. However, the Terling parish register (as quoted by Barton) noted the burial in 1551 of "Mr George Montroy [?Mountjoy], servant to the Right Honourable Lady Mary". Venn's Alumni Cantabrigienses identified a late-16th century graduate, Edward Salter, as born at Terling about 1564, apparently the son of an official. These two scraps of evidence suggest that Audley's heirs maintained a household at Terling.

[162] The History of Parliament website uses the same numbering.

[163] Grieve, Sleepers, i, 95, 108-10.


[165] Grieve, Sleepers, i, 112, ii, 3.

[166] The Mildmays were not unique in maintaining more than one residence. (There was also an additional town house in London's Aldgate). The Rich family alternated between Leez Priory and Rochford Hall. By the late sixteenth century, the Petres, another political dynasty, occupied mansions in Ingatestone, Thorndon and Writtle, although in their case the intention was to separate the generations. From 1574, Sir John Petre's principal residence was at Thorndon Hall, south of Brentwood. However, when he handed control of Ingatestone Hall to his son in 1600, he kept a suite of rooms for his own use, even though the properties were only five miles apart. [F.G. Emmison, ed., with text by F.W. Steer], Ingatestone Hall in 1600: an Inventory (Chelmsford, 1954), 1. Since Terling was only eight miles from Chelmsford, Thomas II could still keep in touch with the affairs of the town, and pull the necessary strings of command. A country retreat was also no doubt attractive at times when disease was rampant in the town. As discussed below, his son Thomas III also probably shuttled between Moulsham and Terling. Transit would have been reasonably comfortable: by 1594, and probably earlier, Thomas II had his own coach: [A.C. Edwards], Elizabethan Essex (Chelmsford, 1961), picture 22.

[167] The 1589 Mildmay wedding seems to have been a major event. A widow from Fairstead and a married woman from Sandon, a village about six miles away, came to witness the event and were billeted at the home of an unnamed Terling family. However, the two women were suborned by a group of serving men, also "strangers", and went off for a night in which they were described as "well occupied".  It would be surprising if a gentry wedding had not been organised on a lavish scale, and evidently some of the humbler locals treated the occasion as a Saturnalia. Emmison, Elizabethan Life: Morals & the Church Courts, 12.

[168] The presence in Terling during the 1590s of the schoolmaster Thomas Hobson was probably the result of Mildmay patronage. Thomas I had left an annual payment of 20 marks (£13, 6 shillings and eightpence) from his Terling properties to Chelmsford's grammar school, and his son may have felt that it was only fair that Terling should have some similar educational support. There is no evidence that Hobson was paid out of parish funds, and some indication that he was unpopular.

[169] The role (and considerable workload) of justices of the peace  in Essex is discussed by Samaha, Law and Order in Historical Perspective,76-85 and Sharpe, Crime in Seventeenth-Century England: a County Study,28-30.

[170] When, in 1604, the two parish constables of Downham, 7 miles south of Chelmsford, released two alleged offenders for whose arrest he had issued a warrant, an evidently furious Sir Thomas Mildmay demanded that they appear at Moulsham Hall and answer to him personally: Samaha, Law and Order in Historical Perspective, 79, supplemented by EAO.

[171] In February 1603, Mary "Sqier" [?Squire], a single woman, gave birth to a child. As was usual, local women attending the birth pressed her to identify the father, and she named Roger Nightingale. He was probably a relative of Geoffrey Nightingale, a gentleman from Newport in north-west Essex, and a justice of the peace (a copy of the proceedings was sent to "Mr. Nightingale"). Keen to avoid having to pay for the child's upkeep, Terling people asked "Sir Thomas Mildemaie, knt" and another local justice, John Sterne, the vicar of Witham, to investigate. (Sterne was also suffragan bishop of Colchester.) They determined that, "the said Roger being unable to prove anything to the contrary "(which sounds an arbitrary way to proceed), he should be regarded as the father and compelled to pay for the child. Thus an awkward matter was not only resolved but effectively hushed up, the magistrates agreeing that "for the corporal punishment of either of the said parties they have thought fit to defer it for divers reasons". In 1602, Roger Nightingale had been accused of fathering a child by a woman from Great Leighs, one of the neighbouring parishes to Terling.  He was described as a miller, variously of Newport and of nearby Little Chesterford. This time, Roger resisted the demand for money, and in 1604 was threatened with imprisonment until he paid up. It was perhaps this second escapade that explains why the record relating to Mary Sqier was kept on file: other similar memoranda were probably later discarded. In 1630, an official report into food supplies at Essex markets found that "[Saffron] Walden vents not att any tyme any quantitie of any sort of graine excepting barley". Roger Nightingale may have visited mid-Essex to buy wheat (to grind into white flour for bread), and incidentally sow some wild oats. He may also have been an unrecorded relative of Thomas Nightingale of Newport, son-in-law of Sir Robert Clark of Good Easter, who was created a baronet in 1629. A labourer, John Nitingale, lived at Great Waltham in 1627: perhaps he was one of the children? Barton, 100-1 (EAO has "Nitingale"); Quintrell, ed., The Maynard Lieutenancy Book, 1608-1639, ii, 281.

[172] PPEV, 177-84 and cf. 113.

[173] Formal prosecution was probably the final stage in attempts to control perceived anti-social behaviour. In 1616, a local man was reported to the magistrates for playing music "from alehowse to alehowse upon the Sabothe days and often times he hath had warning of it (emphasis added)". PPEV, 157. It is likely that a justice of the peace could intimidate an alleged malefactor by threatening formal prosecution, involving the inconvenience of appearance in court, the likelihood of fees, fines and other punishments, and with little prospect of any presumption of innocence in the face of a hostile magistrate. In 1627, the parish constable of Manningtree, a small port on the Stour estuary, painted a bleak picture of a town "grown to that degree of wickedness that drunkenness abounds, some running to the alehouses and play away their money and time ... and their wives and children run a-begging and are ready to starve at home". In asking "that these things may be suppressed, that so God may not be so dishonoured and that also the officer may be encouraged and borne out in his office" (his fellow constable was "a common alehouse haunter and a common gamester"), he added the significant grumble that there was "no Justice near to acquaint with these things". In the same year, a petition from the respectable inhabitants of Manningtree made similar points about the need for a local justice of the peace to enforce informal warnings to persistent offenders: "let townsmen or officers go to tell them of their disorder, they will rail and ... be ready to fly in their faces; and through sufferance grow every day worse and worse - we having no justice and other such [-] grow so 'rusticall' [sic, in EAO] that for the better sort it is almost no living with them".


[175] Sharpe, Crime in Seventeenth-Century England: a County Study, 31-3.

[176] Quintrell, ed., The Maynard Lieutenancy Book, 1608-1639, i, lvii-lviii. It is possible that Thomas III was a victim of poor relations between the lord-lieutenant, the Earl of Sussex, and his two active deputies, Sir Thomas Barrington and Sir Gamaliel Capell. Sussex qualified to represent the Crown because he owned New Hall, Boreham (which he sold to James I's favourite, Buckingham, in 1622). However, Sussex did not spend much time in the county. His management style was poor: the deputies were given free rein and little guidance, but their superior felt free to criticise their decisions and to repudiate responsibility for any shortcomings. In 1611, it seems that he attempted to use Mildmay (who was his cousin, and also his Essex neighbour) as a channel of communication to Barrington and Capell, which they resented. Perhaps this contributed to Mildmay's apparent removal from office: no formal dismissal seems to have been recorded, but his name ceased to appear after 1611. Ibid., i, 15-17.

[177] Thus of 28 cases of unlicensed alehouses between 1560 and 1699, 15 occurred between 1609 and 1619. PPEV, 134. "What truly matters in the Terling case is not that the village officers undertook regulatory prosecutions – for they had always done so to an extent... –  but that in the early seventeenth century they did so on an altogether different scale to what can be shown to have been attempted in the previous half-century." Wrightson's summary (PPEV, 201) may be undermined by factoring in the role of Thomas II in the parish from 1566 to around 1607, and the absence of a qualified justice of the peace thereafter.

[178] Grieve, Sleepers, ii, 3, 7, 21-2, 28-30.

[179] PPEV, 113, 136, 156, 178.

[180] PPEV, 114. For "village", here as elsewhere, read "parish".

[181] PPEV, 200, 207 (both by Wrightson),

[182] PPEV, 177-8 (Wrightson and Levine).

[183] PPEV, 203 (Wrightson).

[184] PPEV, 178 (Wrightson and Levine).

[185] His father, Thomas II, had remarried three years before his death, settling the manors of Chelmsford and Moulsham upon his second wife for her lifetime. Thomas III was evidently in control of Chelmsford affairs by 1614. Perhaps the peak in Terling prosecutions between 1607 and 1612 reflects his residence in the village, with Moulsham Hall in the hands of his stepmother. PPEV, 113.

[186] Wright, The History and Topography of the County of Essex, i, 241.

[187] J. Hughes, "Rochester, Sir Robert (c. 1500–1557)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; Honoured as a martyr, his brother was beatified in 1888 to become the Blessed John Rochester.

[188] Emmison, Elizabethan Life: Wills of Essex Gentry & Yeoman, 14-15; PPEV, 153-5. Although Shaa was John Rochester's "well-beloved son-in-law", the couple may have had their problems: in his own will of 1600, Thomas Shaa refers to Philippa as "my now wief or reputed wief", and her son Edmond as his own reputed child. Barton, 123. The Shaa family were resident gentry in Terling by 1555, and remained for about a century, when their estate at Terling Hall passed by marriage to the Godbolds. In 1634, Edmund Shaa sent his 15-year-old son Robert to Wadham College, Oxford, where Foster's Alumni Oxonienses records that he graduated at about the age of 18, becoming a Fellow of Wadham in 1641. The Shaa family are not discussed in PPEV.

[189] Barton, 123 for John Rochester. Richard Rochester's will is in EAO.

[190] Barton, 163.

[191] J. Kirby, "Savile Family", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. One of John Rochester's many daughters had married a Henry Savile, so perhaps there was some connection there as well. St. John Mildmay, Brief Memoir of the Mildmay Family, 24 gives the date of the wedding as 16 March 1616: Barton presumably interpreted this as 1616/17 (the date of New Year still formally falling on Lady Day, 25 March) and amended the record accordingly. It makes little difference to the theory that the crackdown on anti-social behaviour was associated with Thomas III's remarriage.

[192] M.P. Winship, "Weld, Thomas (bap. 1595, d. 1661), Independent minister and religious controversialist", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  Wrightson and Levine call him "a bigot and zealot of the first order, even by seventeenth-century standards" (PPEV, 160). It is unlikely that Thomas III would have appointed a vicar without checking on his character and beliefs.

[193] Gyford, Public Spirit, 104 supports a hypothesis that Weld was appointed on the recommendation of Dame Katherine Barnardiston, a prominent Witham landowner (wife of the magistrate William Towse) and a strong Puritan. This theory would only confirm that Thomas III knew that he was appointing a religious radical.

[194] Grieve, Sleepers, ii, 25-6.

[195] Grieve, Sleepers, ii, 29-30. Until 1836, Essex formed part of the diocese of London.

[196] Smith, Ecclesiastical History of Essex, 174.

[197] Grieve, Sleepers, ii, 30.

[198] Grieve, Sleepers, ii, 30.

[199] PPEV, 133-4.

[200] Local hearings took place several times a year in the parish church either at Chelmsford or Kelvedon, each of them nine miles from Terling village. Gyford, Public Spirit, 172 suggests that hearings of cases from the Witham area were switched from Chelmsford to Kelvedon sometime between 1615 and 1622. This was probably associated with the breakdown of normal church activities in the county town around 1615.

[201] PPEV, 113-14.

[202] PPEV, 136-7, 140, 180, 203.

[203] PPEV, 142-3.

[204] Augustine Norrell is known to have signed his name on five occasions (giving his forename in 1608 as "Austyne"), but made mark to validate his will in 1626, probably because he was by then too sick to hold a pen. The sentiments may have been the petitioners', but it is hardly likely that they crafted the actual wording. PPEV, 147.

[205] Gyford, Public Spirit, 77-8; PPEV, 152. It has been assumed (e.g. in Venn's Alumni Cantabrigienses) that Terling's Thomas Rust was identical with the person who graduated from Cambridge in 1574. Rust seems to have wished to maintain good relations with his parishioners: in 1607 he supported a Terling man, Thomas Baker, when Norrell and his associates accused him of drunkenness, a charge that his defenders insisted arose from "meere malice". However, an otherwise unexplained peak of 13 Terling cases brought before the ecclesiastical courts in 1604 may be explained by his arrival in the parish the previous year. PPEV, 113-24, 137.

[206] Romans 13:4. 1 Peter 2:14 also enjoined obedience "unto governors", because they were sent by the king "for the punishment of evildoers".

[207] Given that so much seventeenth-century religion seems to have been about hellfire, it is surprising to discover that only 23 verses in the whole of the Bible mention punishment, with just a handful of these referring to earthly concerns.

[208] Professor Philip Williamson of the University of Durham, the authority on the prayers used by the Anglican Church, kindly tells me that, in the early 17th century, the text was read out three times each year on special occasions, once to mark the anniversary of the accession of James I and twice in condemnation of attempts to assassinate him, in 1600 (the Gowrie Conspiracy) and 1605 (the Gunpowder Plot). It would have been very familiar to churchgoers.

[209] PPEV, 203.

[210] PPEV, 137n. Author of The Strutt Family of Terling 1650-1873 and father of the 5th Baron Rayleigh, Charles Strutt died in 1981.

[211] The concluding section of this essay suggests that the Terling petition should also be compared with complaints from other parishes about regulation of alehouses.

[212] The fact that Sir Thomas Mildmay apparently did not sign the petition himself is of little importance. As he would demonstrate in 1624, in securing the dismissal of John Michaelson's allegations against him, his legal training told him that a document was only valid if it bore the correct signatures: the petition was from the parish officers, and adding his own name might have rendered it ineligible for consideration.

[213] PPEV, 139, 178.

[214] His lack of any obligation to Thomas III may explain why, despite representing the parish eight times to the local courts, "he was almost never responsible for actually presenting a case to the justices". PPEV, 139.

[215] The Cromwell quotation is widely available. It dates from the summer of 1643.

[216] The park was leased to farmers by absentee owners in the late-17th century (PPEV, 26). After 1771, the Strutt family established a new park on the east side of the river, under the windows of their Georgian mansion.

[217] Because court records show jurors (at quarter sessions) and churchwardens (in the ecclesiastical courts) making allegations and pursuing prosecutions, it may be too easy to assume that their actions were entirely autonomous. In 1540, the churchwardens of Stock, a parish 5 miles south of Chelmsford, reported a local man for alleged sexual misdemeanour. The rector succeeded in having the charge dismissed, on the grounds that the officials had "made the presentment without advice, on suspicion which arose from some light persons not worthy of repute" (emphasis added). F.W. Austen, Rectors of Two Essex Parishes and their Times (Colchester, 1943), 112.

[218] PPEV, 207, 200 (Wrightson).

[219] PPEV, 178.

[220] Emmison, ed., Early Essex Town Meetings, 28. The crackdown was probably associated with the declaration of war against Spain in October 1624.

[221] PPEV, 137-8, supplemented by EAO.

[222] Morant, History and Antiquities of the County of Essex ii, 146.

[223] Gyford, Public Spirit, 74 for a brief biography of William Towse. Descriptions of his local activities are scattered through both of her books. (Barnardiston was pronounced 'Barnston' or 'Barston'.)

[224] PPEV, 177-8.

[225] PPEV, 42. In this concluding section, I have not repeated references to phrases and statements already quoted.

[226] Janet Gyford cites an intriguing episode from Witham in 1588. A court case arose over the will of Thomas Gilder, a victualler who had lived in the town for at least a decade. John Armond, a prominent local figure who lived in the main [Newland] Street, gave evidence that he could identify Gilder, but only by sight. Armond had spent the previous 36 years in Witham. Gyford, Witham 1500-1700, 9. With such a high rate of population mobility, more recent and transient residents may have known, and been known by, few of their fellow-parishioners.

[227] The availability of both the Terling parish register and so many local wills online would make this aspect of the reconsideration of PPEV suitable for sub-doctoral dissertation research that could be undertaken anywhere in the world – and perhaps it has.

[228] As noted above, Emmison, Elizabethan Life: Morals & the Church Courts, 115 locates this incident in Fairstead church.

[229] Dancing on the village green is mentioned in passing in PPEV, 121, 131, 157. The annual fair was still in operation in 1848 (according to White's Directory of Essex), but for pleasure only.

[230] He was once prosecuted for fishing on the Sabbath, during service time, presumably in his millpond. PPEV, 157.

[231] Evidently, the more prosperous residents felt entitled to block the nuptials of a couple they presumably regarded as too poor to be allowed to breed.  There was a risk that this strategy might rebound: the accused "confesseth they have lyved together a yeare", thereby massively increasing the chances of a birth out of wedlock. PPEV, 133.

[232] Table 4.1 (PPEV, 77) does not explicitly define the period surveyed: the book begins at 1525, the Terling registers at 1538 but calculations in the following pages are given for 1580-1699.

[233] PPEV, 47-8, 77. The figures are 290 entering marriage for the first time, with 72 finding partners from outside the parish. Remarriage would reduce the exogamous percentage, although some allowance may be made for the fact that the larger total includes the first quarter of the 18th century. "Not surprisingly many of the young people of Terling looked outside the village for their marriage partners," say Wrightson and Levine.

[234] PPEV, 20, 24. It is to be regretted that the doctoral thesis usually cited on this subject, F. Hull, "Agriculture and Rural Society in Essex, 1560-1640" (University of London, 1950), was never published.

[235] This may explain how, in 1620, Richard Sache, tanner of Fairstead, became involved in a violent dispute between two "seafaringmen", which involved guarantors from Steeple and Tillingham , marshland parishes south-east of Maldon.

[236] As early as 1588 and 1609, Maldon merchants leased marshland properties on the Blackwater and Roach estuaries, and are assumed to have been supplying London markets with meat and dairy produce. Petchey, Maldon, 69. The sheep and cattle economy may have involved some form of transhumance, in which animals were driven to lush marshland meadows during the summer, but then transferred to higher ground to graze harvested arable land and drier winter pastures.This certainly seems to have been the case with 19th-century commercial farming in Essex. While this practice may have developed in response to the demands of the growing London market, it is worth noting that in 1086, Terling was one of the very few inland manors in Essex to return a figure for 'pasture for sheep', usually taken as evidence of a marshland annexe: H.C. Darby, The Domesday Geography of Eastern England (Cambridge, 1971), 241.

[237] However, the number of cases tabulated in PPEV, 77 is very small (14). Debt/credit arrangements mentioned in wills (which were usually made shortly before death) often referred to uncompleted business transactions rather than formal loans, and this may explain why interest was rarely mentioned (PPEV, 100-1).

[238] Essex Review, vii (1898), 30. The Witham carrier "doth lodge at the Cross Keyes in Gracious [Gracechurch] –street every thursday and friday". This was a major coaching inn, suggesting a substantial and regular trade between Witham and London. 

[239] Macfarlane, ed., The Diary of Ralph Josselin 1616-1683, 696-7. Archaeologists could no doubt make a useful contribution to the rediscovery of the lay-out of Terling before the clearances of c. 1772 and c. 1850, discussed in "Terling Images". Barton, 34, referred to the survival of "worked stone and rubble conglomerate" near the present mansion. However, this section of the former village is now on private ground.

[240] L.L. Sharpe, the historian of 17th-century legal processes in Essex, perceived an "underlying irony" in the fact that magistrates, who spent so much time combating drunkenness and unlicensed alehouses, should sometimes have held local sessions in the meeting room of an inn. However, there is no reason to see this as inconsistency, once it is recognised that the inn was accepted as a necessary and even a positive adjunct to contemporary life. Sharpe, Crime in Seventeenth-Century England: a County Study, 56. In 1667, the Countess of Warwick had a bad experience when she stopped to dine in Brentwood as she returned to the family mansion at Leez Priory. However, she was cheered by the thought that she would eventually reach the comfort of her own home. Addressing her own soul, she insisted that "all the ill entertainment I meet with in this vain world is but the ill accommodations of this great Inn; and when thou hast past through this howling wilderness and hast finished thy great journey, thou shalt come to Heaven to thy great home where, when thou hast been but one hour, it will make thee forget all the troubles thou meetest with in the way." The Warwicks were Puritans. Poor customer service was no doubt to be deplored, but it hardly justified dismissing Brentwood as a howling wilderness. C. Fell Smith, ed., An Anthology of Essex... (London, 1911), 205-6.

[241] P.L. Ralph, Sir Humphrey Mildmay: Royalist Gentleman … 1633-1642 (New Brunswick, NJ, 1947), 105-10. It is to Sir Humphrey's diary that we owe the information that, in 1640, Thomas III's successor at Terling was known as "old Father Robert Mildmay", 97. Barton, 76, notes the unexplained baptism in 1627 of a child of an unidentified Danbury Mildmay.

[242] In one of many idiosyncratic observations, Samaha comments that the absence of assize files from the 1560s, early in his study of Elizabethan Essex, is "a factor that exaggerates the overall rise in crime". Samaha's explicitly-themed and full-page table demonstrating that no Essex person was hanged or whipped for committing suicide between 1559 and 1603 is a model of precision. Samaha, Law and Order in Historical Perspective: the Case of Elizabethan Essex, 14, 128 (Table A-17).

[243] Parishes, and manors, did indeed elect their officials, and on an annual basis, but this reflected not a commitment to democracy, in the modern sense, but the need to ensure that burdensome tasks were shared among those eligible , and their terms of office limited to a bearable twelve-month imposition. County courts were occasionally asked to enforce acceptance of parish duty upon some reluctant victim, and busy parishioners sometimes paid to secure exemption. Emmison, Elizabethan Life: Morals & the Church Courts, 231-3 notes some examples, including that of an elderly man in the nearby parish of Langford who adopted the strategy of "drinking himself drunk" to prove that he was an unsuitable person to become a churchwarden.  A small parish (1,078 acres), with a population of 193 in 1801, Langford in the late 16th-century would have been hard-pressed to find enough responsible adult males to fill the various offices. Emmison named the reluctant churchwarden as Edmund Riche. He is probably identical with the Edmund Roche reported for keeping an unlicensed alehouse at Langford in 1603. The use of phrases such as "rise to power" and "ruling group within the village" (PPEV, 178) risks inadvertently conveying a misleading impression. I have never encountered a situation where local elections were contested between parties in the recognisable modern sense, with one group campaigning to impose Puritan-influenced social control measures opposed by an alternative slate pledged to tolerate low-level misconduct. Parishes generally seem to have been fortunate if they could arm-twist one inhabitant to accept a job, let alone have any choice between rival candidates.

[244] Emmison, ed., Early Essex Town Meetings, 1, 5, 7.

[245] Gyford, Public Spirit, 99. For Garrard, Gyford, Witham 1500-1700, 190-1.

[246] Later in 1629, Pindar signed a letter in support of Thomas Hooker, the lecturer (town preacher) at Chelmsford, a courageous gesture since Hooker was under attack from the new bishop of London, William Laud, who would soon drive him across the Atlantic. However, Pindar supported Charles I during the Civil War, his presence in the royalist garrison at Oxford drawing upon him an exceptional measure of roundhead revenge. Thorpe was described, in 1650 and in another village, as an able preaching minister. Smith, The Ecclesiastical History of Essex, 37, 238. Michaelson, also later a royalist, supported Hooker as his colleague in the Chelmsford pulpit: Grieve, Sleepers, ii, 36-44 for the Hooker affair.

[247] Austen, Rectors of Two Essex Parishes and their Times, 113, 279. Hearth Tax returns from 1683 suggest a late-17th century population in Stock and Buttsbury of about 730, compared with 580 in Terling. The 1627 Manningtree petition, discussed in Endnote 173 above, seems to have adopted a neutral tone towards the magistrates, neither confrontational nor excessively deferential. The Stock and Buttsbury petition is partly quoted in Wrightson, English Society 1580-1680, 170. 

[248] The widow Peachey, named in 1629, had presumably succeeded Thomas Pechie, reported in 1620.

[249]  The two clerics were contemporaries at Cambridge where they may even have known one another: Edward Thorpe had entered Sidney Sussex College in 1617 (just missing Oliver Cromwell); William Pinder [Pindar] had followed him at Queens' a year later. Sir William Petre had purchased the Swan in 1551: the sign can be traced back to at least 1500. The Cock is referred to in a family property settlement in 1620. The 1629 will of Jane Newman of Buttsbury describes her as an innholder, while members of the family were also described as brewers.

[250] Wrightson and Levine deal with "The National Context" in their first chapter (PPEV, 1-18), but thereafter turn away from the general picture: "Only by thus concentrating our attention [in Terling]... can we hope to fully taste the subtle blend of continuity and change," they argue (PPEV, 18). But continuity and change, however subtly intertwined, may be influenced, and sometimes disrupted, by the external forces of politics and war.

[251] PPEV, 120.

[252] PPEV, 116.

[253] Emmison, Early Essex Town Meetings, 29-30, supplemented by EAO.

[254] Quintrell, ed., The Maynard Lieutenancy Book, 1608-1639, ii, 252, 258, 260, 275.

[255] Wrightson and Levine acknowledge that the upsurge in Terling cases in 1630 was associated with "economic stringency". PPEV, 122. Terling seems to have remained a remarkably orderly community throughout the later 1620s: in October 1626, along with Witham and Hatfield Peverel, the parish made a nil return of problems.

[256] PPEV, 116.

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